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Lost in translation

Gavin Hewitt | 18:51 UK time, Thursday, 5 November 2009

Late last night the Tories were taken aback by the language used by the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Pierre Lellouche.

His words were scathing and undiplomatic in tone. He told The Guardian the Conservatives had "castrated" their influence in Europe. As regards the negotiating style of William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, he said: "They have one line and they just repeat the line. It is a very bizarre sense of autism". He denounced David Cameron's plans to bring back some powers from Brussels to Britain as "pathetic".

But by this afternoon the French minister had a different take on all this. "Pathetic" in French means "sad", he told the BBC. "I meant I was saddened, we are saddened in France to see the debate going in more and more euro-sceptical, euro-hostile tones".

He said he didn't realise that the word "autistic" was so offensive in English and withdrew the remark. Apparently the word is commonly used in France and translates very badly into English.

So in the end the message was lost in translation. Earlier another French minister had opined that it would be very difficult working with the Conservatives. On the evidence of the past 24 hours that is self-evidently true.

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  • 1. At 7:18pm on 05 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    A nice turn of Hollywood phrase as a Headline, but nothing was really 'lost' in the translation.

    This Cameron-vision of retrenching UK powers at the expesne of the disreputable EU will have really irked Sarkozy et al as they thought they had just settled everyone's irritating resistance to France's superior will by getting Lisbon ratified.

    Personally, I can't see Dave 'whats my policy today' Cameron maintaining a war of words for too long with any substantial 'foreign' voice as he has neither the required intellect nor the political credibility in the UK or in Europe to be able to carry it off.

    Paris should relax: Cameron has all the depth and debating skills of a Hollywood blockbuster such as Titanic.

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  • 2. At 7:30pm on 05 Nov 2009, kaybraes wrote:

    Why would anyone want to work with the French anyway? Ain't we already got enough problems having to live with the Labour party?

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  • 3. At 7:31pm on 05 Nov 2009, Mathiasen wrote:

    Based on our experience we assume that a foreign language does not have the same quality as the native language. It turns out to be true in most cases. It is also one of the reasons why we do not give up our native language.
    The European integration has as one of its conditions that we use many different languages, - except when somebody proposes they should all be replaced with English.

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  • 4. At 8:39pm on 05 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Mathiasen

    Re #3

    For once I have no issue with you at all.

    Long may every one of the 27 languages and all their sub-languages, colloquialism, dialects etc. continue.

    The idea of 'english' dominating everything is just so incredibly stultifying one might suspect it is an EU-Brussels proposal!

    No, I know it almost certainly is not: However, what is good and works for National Language is just as good and works even better for Judiciary-Social-Military-Foreign-Police etc. regulation and action across those 27.

    Denmark is a lovely Nation and Danish a vigorous, deeply-rooted Language of an Independent Peoples based on a long, proud evolution over centuries.

    Post-Lisbon: Pity all that will be gone in less than 30 years!

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  • 5. At 9:11pm on 05 Nov 2009, Chris wrote:

    @4 I think it is only about 23 - 24 official. Neither here nor there really.

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  • 6. At 9:13pm on 05 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    Oh please! Somebody more senior than M. Lellouche - possibly even the president - told him 'we don't like the beggars any more than you do but sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, so tone it down'.

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  • 7. At 9:16pm on 05 Nov 2009, nautonier wrote:

    You're surely still missing the main story - Why the 'Rt Hon' Gordon Brown sneaked in to an empty auditorium, in Lisbon, to sign on behalf of the UK, when a referendum on the treaty had been promised. It appears that we now expect the Prime Minister to lie and lie and lie!

    Is not this technically, at least, some sort of a UK constitutional offence by Brown? Would not that be a better and more interesting story?

    It just shows the sad state of affairs in the British media when our PM breaks a position of trust to 'stab the electorate in the back' (once again) over the Lisbon treaty and the media/BBC goes after DC with story after story as if he, is himself, entirely to blame for the debacle.

    I hear that No 10 Downing St is full of chocolate biscuits but who is paying for them, I wonder? I bet they're Mc? something or other variety - Sounds to me like another 'Celtic Conspiracy' involving a certain Rt Hon gentleman?

    Four posts - YAWN - will this blog make it to ten posts?

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  • 8. At 9:43pm on 05 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Irish (Gaelic), Italian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovakian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish.

    The 23 official EU languages. Doesn't the list make your heart beat faster with pride?

    Translations into some 200+ additional languages are under consideration. Needless to say this will require a thorough EU enquiry as to its 'social benefit' and a select group will be commissioned to carry out the fact-finding and they in turn will hire a specialist research team after inviting tenders for the investigation. Some time in 2020 an EU Report will land on the 750+ MEP desks pointing to the need to expand on the 23 (maybe 27 by then, e.g. Icelandish, Ukrainian, Albanian, Turkish) to include the disadvantaged 'minority language groups', but, the EU Parliament will hold off from a decision as in the meantime a research and a Report is anticipated on the 100+ of 200+ 'minority' languages that have died a death as a result of the benign intervention of the EU Directive that 'National' languages of the 23 must take priority and be supported across the EU!

    EU and Progress! Don't you just love it!?

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  • 9. At 10:09pm on 05 Nov 2009, Frenchlily wrote:

    I am French and I can confirm that 'pathétique' has more the meaning of 'tragic, upsetting and dramatic' than sad. So we might interpreter that is tragic to the French that the British do not warm up to their antidemocratic views.

    Secondly, it is the first time I hear that 'autistic' is a 'common' word used in everyday French!! As far as I know, it does relate to someone suffering from autism and is definitely medical. Never heard the French say this word in my everyday conversations with them.

    I think this French Minister is taking the British people for a ride.

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  • 10. At 10:20pm on 05 Nov 2009, WhiteHorses11 wrote:

    Awww, bless their little cotton socks, the French are concerned about their bleating.....
    It's ironic really, we haven't been concerned about the French for 194 years & 5 months :oD

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  • 11. At 10:52pm on 05 Nov 2009, Freeborn John wrote:

    The French Europe minister, along with any other EU-supporters, seem very concerned about the possible painful loss of British 'influence'. The EU bargain is essentially that the good people of Birmingham (or Bordeaux) will henceforth receive their laws from new European political institutions, and in return the political class they elect to Westminster (or Paris) will gain 'influence' over the lives of one another's citizens and indeed those of others from Brno to Bari, all of whom then have a very diluted influence over the actual politicians making the decisions for them. I am sure this seems an attractive deal to a politician like Pierre Lellouche in Paris. But why does he they think it appeals to the ordinary citizens of Britain?

    The British electorate was almost completely unconcerned by the dissolution of the British Empire, even supporting figures like Ghandi in its dismantling. What makes the French Europe minister thinks the British public are then going to be concerned about a theoretical loss of their politicians influence should we distance ourselves from the EU? And is the word 'influence' really appropriate for something that is only offered on condition that we toe the line?

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  • 12. At 11:00pm on 05 Nov 2009, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    #10. WhiteHorses11 wrote:

    "we haven't been concerned about the French for 194 years & 5 months"

    Why not the Field of the Cloth of Gold in June 1520 or some other date or perhaps when France and United Kingdom very nearly became a reunited Nation just before Hitler's Nazi army invaded in 1940. We are historically ruled over by French noblemen (1066 and all that) A large part of what is now France was under the English Crown till 1453. Is it not reasonable to think that apart from Catholicism, the French relationship with the English is fundamental to France and England - perhaps burning the Maid of Orléans in 1431, by the English, did more to create the French psyche than it did to the English.

    We are not concerned about the French in the way that we do not give two hoots about our next-door neighbours who happen to be close relatives!

    We fear their Napoleonic Law, not because it is not as just as our own, but because it is French! Yet when the French need our help we will always come to their aid! It is not just Waterloo! But it was rather a good wheeze to make their high speed train arrive at our Waterloo Station! And no by the way there will be a French MP with the constituency of Kensington (and some bit of the Baltic!) at their next general election. Why don't British citizens (sorry subjects!) living overseas get their own members of parliament? Perhaps we should take the lead from the French! The member for Andalusia and Gibraltar perhaps, or Provence!!!!

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  • 13. At 11:02pm on 05 Nov 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Arrogance and bullying behaviour translate perfectly well from French into English, and so do poor excuses for inexcusable conduct.

    And of course, the consequence of this will be that numerous Tory supporters and anti-EU socialists will perceive the EU as becoming increasingly dominated by continental forces that are now openly hostile towards Britain.

    Which may or may not be true.

    It certainly seems that way from where I sit. (on the other side of france) But this confirms my suspicion that the opposition to the Brussels power hierarchy is only just beginning in Europe.

    The EU architects have won a grand victory, but at what cost? Have they sacrificed the tolerance of the people for increased legal power over the economic structure of state? Some would argue that this is a good trade, and they might be right.

    But I think that this is but the first taste of the increased arrogance and brazen contempt that will be shown toward member state politicians who refuse to toe the EU party line. And I also think the consequence of increasingly frequent and vicious attacks on politicians from member states who criticize the EU will be inevitable: the patriotism and sense of fair play in the regions will feed growing resentment and hatred for Brussels.

    Of course, the Brussels elite might be clever, and continue to be as outwardly humble as they have been whilst scheming to give more power to themselves. But somehow I doubt it. I have seen the way these people operate, and I know where they come from, both historically and culturally. I think there will be a period of professional ethnic cleansing in Europe in the coming years, where EU skeptics are rounded up and driven from their jobs in unions, government and even the private sector who depend on government contracts.

    I think it will all end in tears. The arrogance of the pro EU camp in France and Germany is going to offend the pride of the Eastern European states, and no doubt the British will play their usual role as catalysts for disaster. And the eastern European states will look to mother Russia for protection, and there will be a huge diplomatic crisis as Russia tries to stay out of European affairs and gets suckered in once more.

    OK, all that is a lot of crystal ball gazing, but I know quiet a few eastern Europeans, and I have been surprised to hear the bitterness they now feel towards the west, and the nostalgia they have for the time when slavs were respected in Europe.

    Most of all, when I hear Germans and French discuss the way they might deal with such an uprising against the EU, I am shocked by the cultural misunderstanding that arises. Most French and German politicians think they can deal with the east the same way they deal with their own people. I am very far from sure this is the case.

    Anyways, we shall see. Maybe the French and the German cultures have what is required to inspire a unified European people. Maybe there are fundamental reasons why they have never been able to pull it off. Whatever the result, the history will be written in English first.

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  • 14. At 11:04pm on 05 Nov 2009, blackcherry72 wrote:

    nautonier

    @7:

    You write:
    "Is not this technically, at least, some sort of a UK constitutional offence by Brown? Would not that be a better and more interesting story?"

    Well, it might be, if only the UK actually HAD a constitution. As things stand at the moment, it is the only one of the EU's 27 member states NOT to protect the rights of its citizens - and provide a check on the abuses of government - in this way.

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  • 15. At 11:20pm on 05 Nov 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    By the way, I meant on comment on the endless debate about why the EU is "undemocratic".

    One side says the EU is an outrage because it is has only phoney democratic structures, but then they ridicule themselves by demanding a return to the trusted British structures which are even less democratic.

    The other side covers themselves in slime by claiming the EU is in fact democratic, then redeem their argument somewhat by pointing out that, even if it isn't, it is no worse that what already exists.

    But I think the debate on democracy can mislead as to the real reasons for the increasing hostility of the anti-EU set. It is only really lawyers and teachers who lament the lack of democratic features in the EU, and they hardly matter in the scheme of things.

    I think the more fundamental problem with the EU is that it is not respectable or decent. That is to say, the way it behaves is fundamentally dishonest and unfair. It is not the lack of democracy that offends the football fan and the hair stylist, it is the cheating and the brazen contemptuous lying of EU figureheads.

    Let me explain why I make this charge: take the referenda offered to the French, the Dutch and the Irish. Everybody, even small children, can see that this was a cheat.

    There is a joke in English, where you offer someone the toss of a coin to decide an issue, and before you toss the coin you say "Heads I win, tails you lose." Then you toss the coin and declare that either you win or they lose.

    If the other person is really drunk or entirely dim, you can get away with the joke a few times. You may even convince them that their luck is cursed.

    But even children can see that his is a cheat, and based on a preconceived lie.

    And only cheats a liars cheat and lie. So that is where I think the EU is going to run into problems in future. The debate about the democratic deficit will go on amongst the chattering classes, but meanwhile the sort of people who rise to power in the EU institutions will continue to cheat and lie and show utter contempt to the ordinary people of the EU ...... BECAUSE THAT IS HOW THEY WERE BROUGHT UP TO BEHAVE.

    This is the same fundamental flaw that prevented the soviet union to ever escape ridicule as a profoundly corrupt and mean spirited set of institutions: the selection process for the leaders means that decent people are prevented from being selected for leadership positions.

    I suspect this is also why the British monarchy, with its tradition of military service, has survived for so long. You can't cheat and tell lies in the trenches, because you'll be fragged in short order.

    Tell me I'm wrong, folks. Look at the political leaders of Europe. Are any of them honest or decent? Sure, they are articulate and successful, but would you want to trust any of them with your life?

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  • 16. At 01:33am on 06 Nov 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    For once I have to agree with the French. The French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Pierre Lellouche hit the nail on the head....spot on as you Brits say. Whatever the translation, however others in France try to spin it to make it sound more diplomatic, Cameron is pathetic...or more likely insincere. Where was he when Britain actually had the power to do something about it before Gordon Brown unilaterallly signed Britain into slavery? Cameron is looking twenty years down the road and sees himself getting out of a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce limo in Brussels and entering its finest restaurant. That's where he was during all this time, daydreaming of himself as an MEP. Just like Neal Kinnock and Tony Blair.

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  • 17. At 02:49am on 06 Nov 2009, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    Frenchlily: A few years ago, I read an article in a Canadian paper which quoted Jacques Attali when he was attending a conference in Québec. He’d used the phrase une juxtaposition d’autismes, which I found odd enough to remember to this day. In that article’s context, it seemed as though the closest English translation would have been something like “a juxtaposition of isolations”. Would autisme ever be translated into English as “isolation”? If so, perhaps that is part of what M. Lellouche tried to convey about his view of Mr. Hague’s negotiating style.

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  • 18. At 05:19am on 06 Nov 2009, smroet wrote:

    @15. On the democratic deficit : it depends on how you look at the new arrangements. You can try to understand them by seeking out a clear exposition of how they came about. For the road from the EU Constitution to the Lisbon Treaty, I just read a brief work by the Danish MEP Jens-Peter Bonde, via Wikipedia, who explains how it was done.

    The ground rule of democracy is something like "although few can generate a policy, we are all able to judge it" (cf. Karl Popper in his book the Open Society and its Enemies, in the discussion about the Funeral Oration of Pericles of Athens). If you want to judge a policy, you have to understand it; and if you want to understand a policy, you need a clear exposition of it. Striving for clarity often means hard work, but sometimes it comes in a flash.

    Lellouche's judgment of Cameron's attitude came in a flash: it is quite clear what he meant with "autiste" in the current context. One can always bicker about the political correctness of the use of this word, but that obscures the issue. By reading up on autism, I came across the following phrase (Google translation from French) "the real issue is their lack of integration in our society". For people afflicted with autism, this is very tragic indeed.

    However, in the context Lellouche was using it for the Tory Euro-sceptics, it refers to one or more of the following: 1) their decision to side with some small groups in the European Parliament, 2) the continuous promises of referenda in the UK, promises which are never promptly executed, 3) the existence of numerous UK-exceptions in EU policy - the rebate, not in Euroland or Schengen, opt-outs on the social chapter, the human rights chapter, etc., etc. and 4) the fact that, in the EU, for 1 Brit you have 1.33 German + 1 French + 1 Italian + 0.43 Benelux, amongst others, so that the numbers game is unfavourable if ever qualified majority voting is effectively used in the EU council. Britain can go it alone, but then it won't be in the EU. At a time when people discuss whether 'Europe' will still be relevant on the world stage, is this really the right policy? Euro-scepticism is a choice, but now that the Lisbon treaty is there it should be properly reconsidered.

    The UK position in the EU can be improved, by joining in the formulation of policy, and/or by expressing judgments of policy issues wherever this is possible. Since English is the de-facto language in the EU (it is the second language for most Europeans), people from the UK even have a natural advantage here. So why not examine the available options, and discuss those.

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  • 19. At 06:02am on 06 Nov 2009, Mathiasen wrote:

    4. and, cool_brush_work
    I wonder if I should be worried if you “have no issue with me at all.” ;-)

    The linguists of the 19th century were probably just as much in favour of national liberalism as you, but they discovered that the European languages are related to each other. You will probably know that English belongs to the Germanic family. The same goes for Dutch and Danish, which both are very close to German. Both are quite flexible languages too. Large parts of Danish are imports from German, which is now becoming hip again among the Danes after a long period, where only intellectuals had an interest worth mentioning.
    Understanding of languages automatically leads to reflections that go beyond the short national liberal period – and borderlines. This seems also to be the dominant pattern for the rest of the humanities now, so that you cannot publish a catalogue of Van Gogh paintings without considering the question if he was a Dutch or a French painter.

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  • 20. At 06:20am on 06 Nov 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Van Gogh was French?? You must joking!

    Next you will be saying that Gdnask is German, or that the Crimea is Russain!

    Crazy talk. Madness.

    This sort of madness can only end with one world government, when we all love the party and we all sing the national anthem together, as one voice.

    And that land shall be called.... "McDonalds".

    It has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

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  • 21. At 06:40am on 06 Nov 2009, Mathiasen wrote:

    #20. and democracythreat
    I understand you live in Switzerland - I also understand you know nothing about paintings. I refer you to the catalogue of the recent exhibition in Basel of Van Gogh landscapes.
    Since BBC probably will not allow that I write the German title you will have to find it on the internet.

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  • 22. At 06:51am on 06 Nov 2009, Chris wrote:

    @20 why can't we call it "Peking Duck"?

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  • 23. At 08:37am on 06 Nov 2009, Chris wrote:

    Anyhow going back to the French minister's remarks, what he was trying ro say still rings true. What does Cameron think will achieve by removing the conservative party from the rest of the EU conservatives? I'm pro EU, not because I think its the best thing in the world but because it is the best thing of anything else that is available out there at the moment. I could complain and cry and theorise that this would be better and that is best. But the true cold reality is that at the moment there is nothing else better available to us, so we have to work with it, and I wished Cameron would also grasp reality and try to work with that reality and get some benefits for us. Instead we may run the risk of been lead by someone who lives in fantacy land and not the real world. Having said that don't take it for a second to mean that I believe our current government with its famous "red lines" is doing us any favours either. So where to from here? Full steam ahead, we become more EU than everyone else. We join the single currency it sure passes Gordon's 5 golden tests by now! We join borderless Europe, just imagine freeborn-john gets in his car, drives through the tunnel across to France has coffee there (if he is lucky enough to speak French, otherwise accepts happily whatever the waiter brings him! No more lost in translation there Mr. John! thank you) then take the E40 drives non stop all the way to a few Km from St. Petersburg (Will need to leave the E40 at some point after Germany) where AliceWeb will meet him and welcome him with some Vodka and hering snacks. So that is what the EU all about and I do hope that Cameron will make that dream come true.

    Otherwise that's is we DO NOT live in a democracy :)))

    Ok, ignore the otherwise statement.

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  • 24. At 08:39am on 06 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:

    *13* Democracythtreat

    ......Anyways, we shall see. Maybe the French and the German cultures have what is required to inspire a unified European people. Maybe there are fundamental reasons why they have never been able to pull it off. Whatever the result, the history will be written in English first.

    *************************

    I like your post. It says a lot about how I feel about the EU.
    Not sure about your last paragraph though. I have friends who live in and work in France and they are very aware that the French are as upset about not being given a say in Lisbon as we in the UK are.
    However, as the French Government does not apply EU directives so avidly and zealously as the UK does, the daily effect on their lives does not seem to be so dramatic.
    They do tell me however that there is an undercurrent of feeling that the EU is more about power than people.
    What the French peoples eventual reaction will can only be guessed at.
    After all they do very nicely out of the CAP and their contribution to EU funds is a lot less than Britain's.

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  • 25. At 08:48am on 06 Nov 2009, BeninBrussels wrote:

    Surely the main reason for the softening of the French Minister's line is that someone must have pointed out that, even if that's what he thought, it was an odd time to say it just when D Cameron has at last, hesitantly but noticeably, turned around and faced the Eurosceptics rather than being swept along by them. D Hannan and one other have resigned in consequence. I suspect there are lots of factors in why Cameron did this now - get the row, if there is to be one, over as long as possible before the election, given that losses of votes to UKIP and even BNP is what he's worried about; realisation that a referendum after the election could only really be about withdrawal (whatever the question actually said); waking up to the fact that the 'free trade option' so beloved of withdrawers is just a fantasy (can exaplain why in another post if anybody wants).

    Actually, as the FT says today, the reaction could have been a lot worse, and perhaps DC will now be emboldened to start engaging in European politics and not tilting at it ... perhaps he will now realise that Hannan's advice to leave the EPP was as barmy as his continued support for a referendum ... we live in hope .....

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  • 26. At 09:01am on 06 Nov 2009, bena gyerek wrote:

    i think it is true that by "pathetic" he meant "tragic". this guy was basically speaking as a friend - i.e. as someone who wants what is best for the uk (which is not ipso facto what is worst for france, contrary to what most eurosceptics fundamentally believe). this guy is actually an anglophile, and feels saddened by the fact that it seems the uk will need to consign itself to the wilderness for several years before we can learn the value of what we are rejecting.

    on the other hand, i don't accept his retraction of the word "autistic", primarily because it is so accurate. i think a large part of the uk's national autism is because of our inability to speak any foreign language. we do not understand (and hence take no interest in) the internal political dialogues of our european partners, and therefore we instinctively distrust them. that's why so many brits have a them-and-us attitude towards the continent. they always think of other european nations as being fundamentally our rivals, rather than as someone we can collaborate with.

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  • 27. At 09:15am on 06 Nov 2009, RCalvo72 wrote:

    I'm a fluent French speaker, and this is perhaps the most insincere non-apology that I've read in a long time. "Pathétique" may indeed have a slightly less sneering ring to it that "pathetic", but, as far as I can see, Mr. Lellouche is only mildly regretful about the un-PC use of "autistic". A number of parents of autistic children have complained about it. A justified complaint indeed: how dares Mr. Lellouche compare their little dears to the self-absorbed, self-defeating, obsessive attitude of the Conservative Party towards Europe?

    As for "castrated", he hasn't even bothered trying to pin the blame on this on a mistranslation, merely mumbling something about having said "emasculated" (which means exactly the same as "castrated", only in a less agrarian manner).

    The thing is, the shoe fits perfectly: Mr. Lellouche's was a perfect summary of everything that is wrong with the recent Tory policies towards Europe. But probably somebody important told Mr. Lellouche (known to be a rather intemperate fellow, although quite a conservative Anglophile) that it was quite awkward to see the interview published just on the same day that David Cameron had been swallowing quite a large helping of European humble pie. Hence the insincere non-apology. The Tory leadership would however do well to consider this a warning shop: mainstream Continental conservatives are quite annoyed with their erratic behaviour, and they can be just as awkward, if not more, than any wayward Europhobic Tory if they want.

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  • 28. At 09:17am on 06 Nov 2009, Chris wrote:

    He could have also mention that UKIP have selective understanding :)

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  • 29. At 09:24am on 06 Nov 2009, Nicolas wrote:

    9. At 10:09pm on 05 Nov 2009, Frenchlily wrote:
    (...)
    Secondly, it is the first time I hear that 'autistic' is a 'common' word used in everyday French!! (...). I think this French Minister is taking the British people for a ride.

    ----

    Not in everyday life, but it's definitely part of the political vocabulary, mainly to imply that the government either doesn't understand or doesn't care what "the people" really want. And, not surprisingly, it's gotten even more popular since Sarkozy arrived at the Elysee...

    Beyond the semantics, it seems to me that Pierre Lellouch just said publicly what many other European government officials were thinking privately. David Cameron's statement that other governments don't share this view are plainly ridiculous : does he imply that most European countries would love to see Britain go isolationist ? Europe needs the UK has much as the UK needs Europe, and all EU members would probably prefer the UK as a fully engaged partner. The only government officials applauding the Conservatives' current policy are those who have a stake in seeing Europe remain weak -- Russia, China, etc...

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  • 30. At 09:24am on 06 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    benagyrek

    Re #26

    UK 'autism' on Europe.

    Having sat in pubs, clubs, restaurants, hotels and homes from Norway to Greece and all points in between over several decades I can assure you 'national autism' is certainly not confined to the British/English.

    You have a very good point about the lack of foreign language skills amongst Britons - - to stereotype (which I abhor) the Brits are truly lazy about learning other's languages - - and they do miss out on so much as a result.
    That said, the idea any average citizen from Uppsala, Tallinn, Zagreb, Granada spends their days puzzling on those 'Britons' or any of the other Peoples is just not the case. They have no more insight for the ordinary Citizen than... well, an EU Commissioner or MEP!

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  • 31. At 09:27am on 06 Nov 2009, bena gyerek wrote:

    zydeco @ 24

    i think your observation about the undercurrent of opinion across the eu public is extremely pertinent. the thing i hate about lisbon is that it has done absolutely NOTHING to address the democratic deficit. all it is designed to do is to shore up the current system that allows brussels to be controlled by a cartel of national governments. i wonder what will have to happen before our politicians wake up and understand that the public needs to be given back control over the whole european project.

    what frustrates me most about british eurosceptics is their inability to see that they share a common interest with the general public across the whole of europe. most of their arguments focus on how the eu is an undemocratic project by our government in cahoots with foreigners in order to take our sovereignty/democracy away from the british public. their only recommendation is to leave the eu altogether. but why? rather than reject the eu altogether, why not try to fix it? where is the constructive criticism?

    i think the reason for this attitude is that most eurosceptics cannot see the diversity of opinion within other european nations. they feel impotent within the eu. they are incapable of communicating with other europeans and discovering how many allies they could have on the continent, if only they would come up with a more mature and constructive critique of the eu.

    in my own private fantasy, instead of demanding yet more opt-outs, the tories would instead insist that the democratic deficit in the eu be fixed, so that the powers that have been delegated to brussels are made properly accountable. i think if someone actually gave proper voice to this basic failing of the eu, they would find that it resonates with voters not only in the uk, but in france, germany, the netherlands, etc, etc.

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  • 32. At 09:28am on 06 Nov 2009, Chris wrote:

    @8 Cool_brush_work, learn some facts that's is even more guess work that your post #4 :) Deal with reality, unless you are a painter in which case your wild imagination is a great asset :)

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  • 33. At 09:34am on 06 Nov 2009, bena gyerek wrote:

    cbw @ 30

    i agree that few members of the european public have any clue who their mep is (because he/she is a total irrelevance) or take any interest in european commissioners (because they are faceless unelected politicians who ultimately just do the bidding of the eu's national governments). but this is symptomatic of the democratic deficit in the eu. very few londoners took an interest in london politics before we had our own elected mayor.

    however, i will bet that the average spaniard / german / french / etc has a much better understanding of british national politics than the other way round, because they actually speak our language, and the prime minister of britain is someone who actually matters.

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  • 34. At 09:51am on 06 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:

    The only 'pathetic' thing about this whole EU business is that it is all being done under the guise of a 'This is the best thing for all the people of Europe' banner. In its present set-up it isn't!
    No Government of any nation is brave enough to put it to the test. Hence the underhanded, double-dealing schemes to avoid referenda or, in the case of Ireland, to do it again but with instructions to get the right answer the 2nd time.
    The whole shebang is an ego trip - and a lucrative one at that - for politicians.
    There may be good things about the EU, but until it cleans up its act, tells us exactly what its final objectives are and, most important, consults with its populace, it is only ever going to be seen as a corrupt, self serving organisation that exists only to serve itself.

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  • 35. At 10:03am on 06 Nov 2009, Chris wrote:

    #34, I half agree with that assement, I would fully agree if you'd big business to the politicians, then I'd say you have a point, but with leaving big business out you are missing some of the picture.

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  • 36. At 10:18am on 06 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    ChrisArta

    Re #32

    "Learn some facts.."

    Well, just yesterday I learnt there are 23 'official' EU languages.

    From additional reading I found that the EU Member Nations encompass an additional 200+ language/dialects which form the basis for local-regional speech, e.g. the Sami, the Basques, the Corsicans and whole host of mini-dialects in the East of Europe.

    Lisbon Treaty and facts?

    Well, the Lisbon Treaty draws together all the previous EU treaties under one umbrella: It is a Constitution by another name. This includes the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU which becomes Law as of December 1st 2009. A really positive document about the rights of the individual Citizen within the EU.

    You suppose the Charter is going to protect those 200+ or other National languages from extinction in the next few decades whereas I suppose the logical movement of the EU will lead to their demise irrespective of any Charter. My reasoning being that the EU is not about 'defending' the Citizen and is all about exploiting the Citizen.
    So, in my opinion, we have a Charter that just as in Soviet Russia offered everyone 'protection' under the Law except of course whenever the ruling authority decided it did not apply.

    Who is right? Time will tell.

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  • 37. At 10:24am on 06 Nov 2009, TV Licence fee payer against BBC censorship wrote:

    #34. At 09:51am on 06 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:

    "No Government of any nation is brave enough to put it to the test."

    What utter tosh, are you seriously suggesting that no EU member state have general elections, in the UK (assuming that you are in the UK) you have every right to cast your democratic vote for the UKIP - or even BNP - if you so wish, of course that doesn't mean that your chosen political party will receive enough votes to form a government or possible even take part in a coalition government.

    "There may be good things about the EU, but until it cleans up its act, tells us exactly what its final objectives are and, most important, consults with its populace, it is only ever going to be seen as a corrupt, self serving organisation that exists only to serve itself."

    Which is exactly what will happen now that the Lisbon Treaty can come into force, and is exactly why those who are rabidly anti the EU and those who are merely euroseptics were so against the LT, they knew that most of their arguments (some of which had legitimacy pre LT) will fly out of the window once LT comes into effect and is fully up and running.

    I suggest that you find the time to actually read, and more importantly understand, the Lisbon Treaty and stop just accepting the biased word of the anti-EU/euroseptic media...

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  • 38. At 10:48am on 06 Nov 2009, Chris wrote:

    #37 it falls more in the europhobic category then skeptic :))

    #36 good to see that at least I had some possitive infuence on you and also that you are open minded enough to learn something :) I hope point you to more facts in the future! There is still hope for you:)

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  • 39. At 10:58am on 06 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    ChrisArta

    Re #38

    Methinks you claim far too much for yourself!

    It would be to your advantage to advance one Fact that would encourage a belief in me the EU is good for the UK.

    Go on: Not any of those things I do wrong all the time according to you, Me_rijn, Gunota, T1mOthy etc. You know, don't write your perspective, opinion, proposition etc. just 1 of those simple little Facts about the EU that make it indispensible to the future of the British Peoples.

    Is there 1?

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  • 40. At 11:13am on 06 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:

    37. At 10:24am on 06 Nov 2009, Boilerplated wrote:
    #34. At 09:51am on 06 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:


    I suggest that you find the time to actually read, and more importantly understand, the Lisbon Treaty and stop just accepting the biased word of the anti-EU/euroseptic media...

    ********

    Boiler. In the middle of all your various ravings on this and other blogs, do you actually understand what you are reading in other posters comments?
    On several occasions in response directly to you and also to others, I have stated quite clearly that I have read both the Lisbon Treaty and the EU Constitution.
    It is because I have read these documents that much of my scepticism about the EU arises.
    It is also true that many politicians who voted on the issue of the Treaty admitted to not having read the document. They didn't need to! They were either committed Europhiles who would have voted for it even if it included a Soylent Green clause; or they were 'whipped' into voting for it.
    I take it you have similarly castigated those MPs who voted without the necessary knowledge to so do.
    At least you and I differ on the basis of having fully read and understood the documents.
    I take it you have read and understood them haven't you?

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  • 41. At 11:19am on 06 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #13 - democracythreat

    I can't comment with authority about the rest of eastern Europe but Hungary has a somewhat semi-detached relationship with Russia. On the one hand, they are happy to cooperate over gas transit treaties and the tourists are made more welcome than before (roubles being quite as useful as dollars in these straightened times). There is a generation which still remembers '56 with great anger but another which recalls that they were eminently reasonable in '89-90. There is no question of Hungary rushing to the bear for protection from the big bad west. In the first place, surveys suggest that the Hungarians are the most pro-EU country of all the member states and in the second, she has just had to borrow 250 billion USD from the IMF and ECB so you tend not to look gift horses in the mouth. Far more worrying is the rise of ultra-nationalism, Jobbik and the extreme right.

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  • 42. At 11:20am on 06 Nov 2009, Jean Luc wrote:

    @39. At 10:58am on 06 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Re "ChrisArta

    Re #38

    Methinks you claim far too much for yourself!

    It would be to your advantage to advance one Fact that would encourage a belief in me the EU is good for the UK.

    Go on: Not any of those things I do wrong all the time according to you, Me_rijn, Gunota, T1mOthy etc. You know, don't write your perspective, opinion, proposition etc. just 1 of those simple little Facts about the EU that make it indispensible to the future of the British Peoples.

    Is there 1? "

    You make it look like the other European countries desperately want the Uk to remain part of the EU. You shouldn't think so high of yourself ;)

    But if you really want, I can look up the economic data that clearly shows economic growth acceleration resulting from membership of the EC/EU.

    If you can be 'convinced' by non-economic facts: The founding countries did invite the UK to participate in the talks leading to the ECSC and EEC treaties, but the UK refused to participate: It still lived in the 19 th century, obsessed with that old fashioned idea of national sovereignty. So in 1959 it established the EFTA with other European countries, a regional cooperation without the shifting of sovereignty to a supranational level. Two years afterwards the UK realised it needed to be part of the EEC to have a decent economic future, so it applied for membership. De Gaulle refused. The UK applied again, De Gaulle refused again. The UK applied again a third time (begging to join) and by then De Gaulle wasn't president anymore and the UK could join.

    Both conservatives as labour governments applied for membership.

    Perhaps you should ask your own politicians why they so desperately wanted to be part of the EEC/EC/EU ;)

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  • 43. At 11:31am on 06 Nov 2009, Chris wrote:

    cbw

    #39

    I only claim to have helped you with one thing so far, that's not too much! :)

    Some simple facts for you to start thing about:
    - Cleaner beaches!
    - DFI
    - largest trade flow
    - No need to have a huge army

    We could have more if our governments were not so europhobic
    - No exchange rates
    - Free travel
    - Less working week hours


    That should do for now, more later :)

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  • 44. At 11:33am on 06 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #31 - benagyerek

    Now that is the most sensible post I have seen here in many a long day.

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  • 45. At 11:45am on 06 Nov 2009, EuroSider wrote:

    I don't know why this blog has rumbled on and on.
    When have the British ever taken the slightest notice of what the French say or think?

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  • 46. At 11:56am on 06 Nov 2009, John_From_Dublin wrote:

    # 34 Zydeco wrote:

    "Hence the underhanded, double-dealing schemes to avoid referenda or, in the case of Ireland, to do it again but with instructions to get the right answer the 2nd time."

    As someone from Ireland, I'm getting really tired of this one.

    The first referendum went against Lisbon. The government decided to hold another one on various ground, eg that there were apparently a wide variety of reasons why people had voted against the first time and they felt some of these had been resolved.

    Regardless of that - if the Irish electorate had not changed its views, you would have expected to get exactly the same result. Moreover, if the Irish electorate had not changed its views *and* was outraged at being asked to vote again, then you would have expected an even stronger no vote. In fact they voted yes c 2 to 1, on a relatively high turn out for referenda votes.

    "Eurosceptics" may trot out their oh-so-clever lines about how, if we had voted no again, there would have been a 3rd, 4th and 5th vote - where is the evidence? It is widely held here that if the Irish PM had lost this one he would have had to resign, and the government would probably have fallen.

    And even if there had been 10 more votes on the same issue - what was to stop the voters voting no each time?

    I also predicted that if we voted no again the Europhobes would praise our bravery and clear-sightedness - while if we voted yes it would be because we were bullied, swallowed the EU lies etc etc. I was right. It rather reminds me of the Reps in the US who insist that everyone who voted for Obama was blinded by his rhetoric, had 'drunk the Kool-Aid' etc etc

    Frankly I am fairly sceptical of much of the EU - but when I see this 'it's the USSR all over again, it's the end of the world as we know it' stuff - well, I don't particularly want to be called a Eurosceptic...

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  • 47. At 11:57am on 06 Nov 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    I've just seen the interview with the french minister. I do not believe he meant to provoke or insult or undermine the UK. He seems a reasonable, intelligent man.

    I also accept his claim that he had a legitimate use for the words he chose. I think that if his aim was to provoke anti UK sentiment, he would not have given the interview he has just given.

    Threnodio:
    "Far more worrying is the rise of ultra-nationalism, Jobbik and the extreme right."

    Mmm. But is this inconsistent with a return to mother Russia? The extreme right is a new problem Russia shares with much of Eastern Europe, after all. Although i must admit, it was not Romania or Bulgaria I was thinking of.

    My focus is more on .... how shall i say this?.. the "traditional enemies"... no.. too strong .... "the traditional competitors for real estate" with Poland.

    We all know that poor little poland was victimized by big nasty Germany in 1939, but all I hear these days is about the big evil Polish who spent 20 years invading and stealing land from poor independent nations who were not protected at all by the west.

    Poland is not loved in the east, I fear, and it has no reason to look at Germany for support. Especially once the Nord stream comes online.

    Poland seems to be the rock in everybody's eye these days, and the way they spell words is unforgivable.

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  • 48. At 11:59am on 06 Nov 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    31 is indeed an excellent post.

    Threnodio, I hope you will soon come around to our way of thinking on this issue. ;-)

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  • 49. At 12:21pm on 06 Nov 2009, Benefactor wrote:

    31. At 09:27am on 06 Nov 2009, benagyerek wrote:

    "i think your observation about the undercurrent of opinion across the eu public is extremely pertinent. the thing i hate about lisbon is that it has done absolutely NOTHING to address the democratic deficit. all it is designed to do is to shore up the current system that allows brussels to be controlled by a cartel of national governments. i wonder what will have to happen before our politicians wake up and understand that the public needs to be given back control over the whole european project."

    The EP gains control of the majority of the Budget, codecision with the EP is extended to most areas of policy, and the president of the Commission is to be appointed by the EP.
    So who you vote for has direct bearing on the budget, the nature of the directives and who is President. Post-LT.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    33. benagyerek wrote:

    "i agree that few members of the european public have any clue who their mep is (because he/she is a total irrelevance) "

    I doubt many British can name their MP, who is also mostly irrelevant and votes however the party tells him to anyway.

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  • 50. At 12:33pm on 06 Nov 2009, Benefactor wrote:

    @ #39 cool_brush

    The Economic benefits should be obvious. The increased voice for Britain when the EU is behind us should be obvious. The ability to travel, work and live in 26 other countries should be obvious. The total lack of wars amongst the EU members should be obvious.

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  • 51. At 12:44pm on 06 Nov 2009, Freeborn John wrote:

    What is proposed in post 31 does not work. When people like Declan Ganley tried it they were character-assassinated as CIA-stooges by federalist attack dogs in the press like Tony Barber of the FT.

    The argument of post 31 is simply an attempt to persuade EU-sceptics to not suggest that powers be returned from Brussels. As soon as an EU-sceptic makes a suggestion along the lines suggested in post 31, he/she is immediately told that their proposal is unacceptable, that only federalists have the right to say what the EU is, and everyone else must either accept the federalist's Europe or leave. I am not going there anymore. This is a war of public opinion which the EU-sceptics are winning, with the already advanced de-legitimization of the EU project continuing to both widen and deepen.

    History shows that political institutions that do not have the consent of those they govern perish. It is no secret that you never see revolutions in the English-speaking world, but continually see the same old cycle of Utopian and inflexible projects on the Continent that break down and collapse, only to be reborn and collapse endlessly. Five French republics, three Reiches, and innumerable 'communist democratic republics' highlight the well-worn cycle that the EU is on. Giscard D'Estaing was optimistic enough to hope that his EU Constitution might last for 50 years. I refuse to live under it for 5.

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  • 52. At 1:10pm on 06 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #48 - democracythreat

    I have never been far removed from your thinking. Yes, I am an EU supporter but I have consistently argued that there is a democratic deficit that needs to be addressed and I have even gone so far as to agree with you that direct democracy is a viable option. I simply want as part of that process more regional and local government through devolved powers. The real problem does not lie in Brussels or Strasbourg - it is in London, Paris and Rome. At least the German and Spanish federal systems allow for a degree of local autonomy. Devolution in Britain has been a partial success but has left the English unrepresented in any meaningful sense and is still 'work in progress'.

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  • 53. At 1:29pm on 06 Nov 2009, nautonier wrote:

    14. At 11:04pm on 05 Nov 2009, blackcherry72 wrote:

    nautonier

    @7:

    You write:
    "Is not this technically, at least, some sort of a UK constitutional offence by Brown? Would not that be a better and more interesting story?"


    Well, it might be, if only the UK actually HAD a constitution. As things stand at the moment, it is the only one of the EU's 27 member states NOT to protect the rights of its citizens - and provide a check on the abuses of government - in this way.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I recall that those countries which held a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty did not do so because their Heads of State were threatened with legal action under EU law? They got a referendum because their heads of State were trustworthy

    The answer is surely to amend UK consitutional law - this is what David Cameron is proposing now that the 'Lisbon treachery' is on its way soon to be EU law. Brown's manifesto failed pledge (lie) is and would not be coverd by EU law as it is not a matter covered by existing or proposed EU law?

    The EU does us no good at all when the likes of Brown can lie all the way to biscuit tin and not provide a EU referendum - the EU gives us not a shred of improved constitutional law as the EU law lets all this national internal sovereignty stuff 'slip through the cracks' into oblivion. If the EU was of any use - Brown would now be in EU court for not providing a UK referendum.

    So we miss out on both our UK constitution and the EU constitution - that surely needs amendment with a substantive set of changes in UK constitutional law.

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  • 54. At 1:30pm on 06 Nov 2009, Benefactor wrote:

    #51 Freeborn-John

    "History shows that political institutions that do not have the consent of those they govern perish. It is no secret that you never see revolutions in the English-speaking world, but continually see the same old cycle of Utopian and inflexible projects on the Continent that break down and collapse, only to be reborn and collapse endlessly. Five French republics, three Reiches, and innumerable 'communist democratic republics' highlight the well-worn cycle that the EU is on."

    No Revolutions? what about America? India? Africa? How come those don't count against us but things that happened 1000 years ago in Germany are still held up as examples of continental stupidity?
    The Communist Republics by the way, where by and large not a volountary arragement, you may remember that little organization known as the USSR.

    Oh before anyone thinks of trotting out the old (and stupid) EUSSR meme does anyone really think that the Eastern Europeans who suffered under the USSR for decades would support the EU if it was in any way like it?

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  • 55. At 1:57pm on 06 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #53 - nautonier

    Those countries being Ireland and Ireland - unless, of course, you can name another country which had even one referendum on Lisbon.

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  • 56. At 1:59pm on 06 Nov 2009, Chris wrote:

    #51

    Was the 1st reich pre or post English civil war
    British colonies in the America
    Ireland 1920 (and afterwards)

    Ooops the secret is out now.

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  • 57. At 2:25pm on 06 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Me_rijn

    Re #42

    "Methinks..." You need to get out more!

    For goodness sake I was teasing...

    E.g. 'Is there 1?' Hello! Did You pause for even a second to consider how silly that question is? No! You are so full of Your 'EU-is-good-UK-no-good' mantra You never reflected on the reality of '1'!?

    What is it about you EU supporters that nothing, but nothing is allowed except your all-encompassing view of how the world should be and what Tom, Tomas, Dick, Reijo, Harry, Henrik and all the females... must think?

    Of course there's several good reasons for the UK to remain in the EU - - can't you even conceive of a leg-pull - - and no one could deny it. Only you insufferably 'all things bright and bEUtiful' just cannot draw back for a moment!

    If I am "...convinced.." of anything it is that humourless droning about the wonders of the EU is almost certainly one of the biggest causes of many millions across Europe turning away from it in increasing numbers.

    'Competences', 'Directives', 'Courts of First Instance', 'Derogations', 'Protocols'.... Alright, alright, we get it, but, you lot of EUrophiles just don't seem to understand it is actually only and all about People!

    Really quite depressing.

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  • 58. At 3:12pm on 06 Nov 2009, Freeborn John wrote:

    cool_brush_work (57) asks "What is it about you EU supporters that nothing, but nothing is allowed except your all-encompassing view of how the world should be..."

    It is unconscious strategy of self-deception, a mental pre-filtering of other possibilities to frame the argument around the one option (federal Europe) they favour. At its heart lies their inability to make any coherent argument for a federal Europe relative to other possibilities, and in particular to a world of democratic nation-states that eschew supranationalism and co-operate with one another using inter-governmental means. To open up their mental horizons to other possibilities like that one (which actually is the norm in the non-European world) would immediately require that they make and sustain a logical argument for federal Europe relative to these other options, and that they are incapable of doing. So instead they put the mental blinkers on, and comfort themselves that if there is only one option still visible it needs no justification, and the argument can then be reduced to 'yes' or 'out'.

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  • 59. At 3:13pm on 06 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #57 - cool_brush_work

    I am getting quite worried about you. One moment, you are giving a well-informed and well argued defence of the principles of Common Law and the next you are at it with the tar brush writing all EU supports off as being the same breed. This time, it seems we are humourless.

    Trust me, given some of the junk that is posted by some of the sceptics, a good few of us are only here for the laugh anyway.

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  • 60. At 3:23pm on 06 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:

    54. At 1:30pm on 06 Nov 2009, Benefactor wrote:
    #51 Freeborn-John
    ........The Communist Republics by the way, where by and large not a volountary arragement, you may remember that little organization known as the USSR.

    Oh before anyone thinks of trotting out the old (and stupid) EUSSR meme does anyone really think that the Eastern Europeans who suffered under the USSR for decades would support the EU if it was in any way like it?
    ************************

    The Eastern Europeans as well as the rest of us have no idea yet what the EU might be like in a few years time. We have only heard the politicians version of what is going to happen. As they have been less than honest so far, why should they be trusted any further.
    As the Lisbon Treaty gives carte-blanche for the EU to do almost anything it likes, without further reference to the people, the EUSSR label may well be appropriate.
    Only time will tell. At the moment it is a leap of faith for both lovers and haters of all things EU.
    Those for the EU believe that it will only do good and that all we have been told will happen will in fact happen.
    Those against the EU cannot see why what we are being told must be taken at face value.
    The organisation is corrupt so all this additional power they now have is almost certainly going to turn some heads.
    It is not so much what they might do that that bothers me, but more the fact that they have the power to do anything they like!


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  • 61. At 3:28pm on 06 Nov 2009, DavidHankey wrote:

    I don't why we get so upset by what the French say. They have never really liked us and never really wanted us in the EU. They are just going to have to live with and put up with the way we are.

    We are partners in Europe not lovers!!

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  • 62. At 3:36pm on 06 Nov 2009, Benefactor wrote:

    Lisbon does not give the EU the power to do what it wants:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisbon_treaty#Defined_policy_areas

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  • 63. At 4:18pm on 06 Nov 2009, nautonier wrote:

    Gavin

    Lost in translation? More like - Lost in treachery?

    Can we have a new subject headline questioning why The Conservatives, Liberals and others plus other EU countries and parties and the EU themselves do not hold a special court hearing at the EU to consider whether the UK can still have a referendum and Brown's treacherous signature be reased from the Lisbon treaty - as there is still time to do this?

    This would be a superb test of the EU itself and there would be no doubt whatsoever about the UK's positionif a referendum could be held in the next few months.

    There is still time for a referendum and if the Tories and Liberals UKIP etc are really bothered about it why don't they forward a motion at the EU for a special hearing questioning Brown's signature after Labour's broken manifesto pledge - Brown does not even have a full electoral mandate to be our PM.

    Is this 2009 or 1809 - it beggars belief that the UK can be in this absurd position.

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  • 64. At 4:22pm on 06 Nov 2009, Seedorf1023 wrote:

    Nice excuse Mr. Minister. I suggest next time you get involved in domestic British politics you get the English translation correct. And Benefactor I would never use wikipedia as a source. I suggest you go to the EU website and you can download the entire Lisbon Treaty for free in PDF. Whether you are for or against Lisbon I am amazed by the number of Europeans who have not read the treaty. The Lisbon treay allows member states to withdraw from the EU so at least the UK can leave any time it wants. Whether that is politically or economically viable I am not so sure.

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  • 65. At 4:29pm on 06 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #63 - nautonier

    You want the EU to convene a special court for the sole purpose of determining whether the British government have acted lawfully in not consulting the British people as to whether they want to have anything to do with the EU which you want to convene a special court for the sole . . . . . and so on and on and on?

    Talk about having your cake, eating it and choking on it.

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  • 66. At 4:32pm on 06 Nov 2009, nautonier wrote:

    55. At 1:57pm on 06 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #53 - nautonier

    Those countries being Ireland and Ireland - unless, of course, you can name another country which had even one referendum on Lisbon.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Yes - you're right but the 'opt outs' adopted by different countries are important as some appear to be broader than others and according to e.g. the BBC there is a difference of interpretation on individual country and between different EU country opt outs, in comparison?


    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6901353.stm

    Did any countries seek more opt-outs?

    The Irish Republic and the UK currently have an opt-out from European policies concerning asylum, visas and immigration. Under the new treaty they have the right to opt in or out of any policies in the entire field of justice and home affairs.

    Dublin also won guarantees that the treaty would not infringe on its sovereignty in the areas of taxation, family issues and state neutrality.

    Denmark will continue with its existing opt-out from justice and home affairs, but has the right under the new treaty to opt for the pick-and-choose system.

    Was the Irish Republic the only country to hold a referendum?

    Yes. Most EU leaders argued that Lisbon merely amended earlier treaties and that there was therefore no need for a referendum.

    That position was rejected by the Irish No camp and the opposition Conservative Party in Britain, as well as by many Eurosceptics across the EU.

    The Irish Republic was obliged to hold a referendum because of an Irish Supreme Court ruling in 1987, saying that any major amendment to an EU treaty entails an amendment to the Irish constitution.

    Before the second Irish referendum, Dublin won guarantees that Lisbon would not affect Irish sovereignty in key areas that the No camp had highlighted.

    When will the new treaty kick in?

    The treaty is expected to officially come into force from December.

    The next steps - which might well change - are as follows:

    • The High Representative for Foreign Affairs will not start work until the treaty comes fully into force. The new president of the European Council could also start work at that point.

    • The new European Parliament was elected in June 2009 under the existing Nice Treaty. So there are 736 MEPs - down from the previous 785. Under the Lisbon plan, the number will be fixed at 751.

    • Although a new 27-member European Commission will take office in January 2010, its size will not be slimmed down until 2014.

    • Some extensions of qualified majority voting in the European Council are already in place, such as the appointment of the new commission president and the High Representative - but plans to redistribute voting weights have been delayed until after 2014.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    What Brown has done is illegal or should be illegal? But the EU is not democratic, fair, transaprent and accountable - Is it?

    UK opt out on immigration? That's a laugh! Ha Ha

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  • 67. At 4:48pm on 06 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    ChrisArta

    Re #43

    "Cleaner UK beaches!"

    And what is wrong with a nice lumpy bit of black-tar stuck to your swim trunks along with the seaweed, sea cucumber, sea hare, sea-crabs and sea-wall!?

    As I now look upon my remaining nether regions I see it never did me any harm....

    Cheers.

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  • 68. At 5:07pm on 06 Nov 2009, Eddie wrote:

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  • 69. At 5:08pm on 06 Nov 2009, Eddie wrote:

    as Friedrich Nietzsche said: "Language shapes our thoughts."

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  • 70. At 5:20pm on 06 Nov 2009, rg wrote:

    37. Boilerplated

    quoting Zydeco "No Government of any nation is brave enough to put it to the test."

    "...What utter tosh, are you seriously suggesting that no EU member state have general elections..."

    In the UK EU State we had a General Election in 2005 in which all three main political parties offered a referendum on what became the Lisbon Treaty. Two of them colluded to pretend a referendum wasn't necessary (in their view) and a third has now said they won't hold a referendum.

    EU Lisbon Treaty ratification: What a fiasco.

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  • 71. At 5:20pm on 06 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    I am quite sure by now you all know I amnever one to rain on someone else's parade.

    This is entirely anecdotal from a Maes loosed tongue of a fairly genial and jovial EU Civil Servant: All the same, he initiated this rumour in my local bar, 'Trois Arbre', that when the 8 Francophone and 1 Germanophone Belgian MEPs were asked how many pages the Lisbon Treaty contained, only 1 got it right.

    Well, of course it is the 'content' that matters, but the rumour continues that when asked to designate the most significant 'Section' of the Treaty no more than 3 agreed on which part was, and apparently 2 could not actually give the proper Heading for any Section of the Treaty.

    Given the dissolute activities of these highly paid functionaries across the EU what are the chances there are a good number in the same impressively baffled state on the Treaty they all rejoice at being ratified.

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  • 72. At 5:33pm on 06 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    I know there's a goodly few who recent my contributions but...

    Everytime I click to enter this Blog at the top of its Web-page the message "an error occurred while processing this directive" appears twice and it remains there!

    Alright, own up, which of you lot is taking the proverbial?

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  • 73. At 6:01pm on 06 Nov 2009, Benefactor wrote:

    #66. nautonier wrote:

    "What Brown has done is illegal or should be illegal? But the EU is not democratic, fair, transaprent and accountable - Is it?

    UK opt out on immigration? That's a laugh! Ha Ha"

    How many times does it have to be said, the EU CANNOT order any state to have a referendum, its NOT the EU's fault that Labour didn't give you a referendum.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    64. Seedorf1023 wrote:

    "Nice excuse Mr. Minister. I suggest next time you get involved in domestic British politics you get the English translation correct. And Benefactor I would never use wikipedia as a source. I suggest you go to the EU website and you can download the entire Lisbon Treaty for free in PDF."

    Why not use Wikipedia as a source, its been shown to be pretty much as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica, sometimes more so. I know its not the be all and end all and its generally not admissible as a source in say, University essays and such. But its accurate enough for the point required.
    Have you read the Treaty yourself? If so can you can confirm or deny what it says on the page linked?

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  • 74. At 6:21pm on 06 Nov 2009, Jean Luc wrote:

    Re "I am quite sure by now you all know I amnever one to rain on someone else's parade.

    This is entirely anecdotal from a Maes loosed tongue of a fairly genial and jovial EU Civil Servant: All the same, he initiated this rumour in my local bar, 'Trois Arbre', that when the 8 Francophone and 1 Germanophone Belgian MEPs were asked how many pages the Lisbon Treaty contained, only 1 got it right.

    Well, of course it is the 'content' that matters, but the rumour continues that when asked to designate the most significant 'Section' of the Treaty no more than 3 agreed on which part was, and apparently 2 could not actually give the proper Heading for any Section of the Treaty.

    Given the dissolute activities of these highly paid functionaries across the EU what are the chances there are a good number in the same impressively baffled state on the Treaty they all rejoice at being ratified."

    You are so sad for actually writing this down.

    I am even surprised that there is out of those 9 MEPS one MEP who knows how many pages the lisbon treaty counts. If there is anything that is not worth knowing it's how many pages the bloody thing has.

    I have no idea either why you would need to know the exact names of the headings and titles in the treaty.

    If you ask which changes are most significant it's obvious you can disagree. If they hadn't disagreed you'd probably start a rant about the indoctrinated europhiles all preaching the official EU authorized dogma.

    As you are implying that one can not be enthusiastic about the Lisbon treaty if you don't know the exact number of pages and can't give the proper headings of the Treaty sections, I suppose you are also implying that you can't be against the Lisbon treaty without knowing this stuff. I wonder how many eurosceptics would be able to give these answers!

    I wonder how many people would be able to give the exact number of pages of their own constitution and give the different headings of their constitution.

    You are taking the level of this debate below zero.

    BTW, Belgium has 13 dutch-speaking representatives as well

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  • 75. At 6:22pm on 06 Nov 2009, Freeborn John wrote:

    73. At 6:01pm on 06 Nov 2009, Benefactor wrote: "the EU CANNOT order any state to have a referendum, its NOT the EU's fault that Labour didn't give you a referendum"

    The EU Council consists of 27 government leaders who did just that at their meeting in June 2007. Or do you think it a strange co-incidence that 27 different governments happened to arrive at the same strategy of resurrecting the EU Constitution as a treaty to be rubber-stamped by national parliaments in as many countries as possible?

    The EU Council turns prime-ministers and presidents from representatives of their nations to one another, into representatives of each other to us. If they are all unanimously agreeing to the same approach on all the items on the EU Council agenda, then it is clear that our votes cannot influence any one of them.

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  • 76. At 6:24pm on 06 Nov 2009, Chris wrote:

    #67

    ha ha ha :)

    Its just that I'm too lazy to wash after I have a swim :))

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  • 77. At 6:47pm on 06 Nov 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    "So in the end the message was lost in translation."

    I beg to disagree.

    Let's examine the three main 'undiplomatic' comments one by one

    "He told The Guardian the Conservatives had "castrated" their influence in Europe."

    That is self evidently true for everyone except for the majority of the British media, BBC included, and the political elite. Needless to say, the Europhobes are totally uninterested about this, as they want no influence on something that they so profoundly hate.

    How can a (purported) EU member country have any significant influence when it is (voluntarily) outside the key pillars of what the EU is today. This country could have had influence in the EU of the 1980s, the one of which the UK is sole honorary member, but not on the EU of the 21st century. Need I go into the details, much to the dismay of the Europhobic side of this blogging confraternity? The UK, has next to zero influence in the key policy areas, i.e. economic and monetary policy and border, asylum and immigration policy. Soon there will also be a growing EU common defence capability, using the Enhanced Cooperation vehicle, of which they will also remain self-excluded.

    "He denounced David Cameron's plans to bring back some powers from Brussels to Britain as "pathetic"."

    That is spot on, and definitely not lost in translation. The attitude of the Europhobic sector who want to remain INSIDE the EU but OUTSIDE every single EU policy of any significance and still want to increase the UK's special status, i.e. one set of rules for the UK and another for the rest of the EU is not only pathetic but profoundly undemocratic, i.e. the UK is in a minority of one in the EU in asking for a preferential treatment which no other country has, while at the same time wanting to remain inside the EU, i.e. no other EU country has accumulated the vast collection of opt-outs that the UK has accumulated over the years/decades; and even more important it is profoundly childish, puerile, juvenile. I don't know what they teach the UK political elite at Oxbridge but it seems self-evident that they don't teach them to grow up. If the Europhobes at the Tory party think that the EU has too much power over Britain, then they should listen to Hannah and bugger off. Anything else is just pathetically puerile.

    "They have one line and they just repeat the line. It is a very bizarre sense of autism"

    On this one, I am not sure if the word autism is the correct one. I think "fundamentalism" is a much more appropriate description, and I know that this word has such emotional connotations, but its unemotional and non-pejorative definition, see here

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalism

    perfectly suits most of British Europhobic thinking, as far as the EU is concerned at least.

    A fundamentalist notion of sovereignty which excludes pooling sovereignty with other countries inside the EU. It is also a duplicitous/hypocritical kind of fundamentalism as I haven't heard any Europhobe saying that NATO or the UN, intergovernmental organisations like the EU, are undemocratic or erode British sovereignty.

    A fundamentalist attachment to a currency as a symbol of nationality and identity, something that is obviously not present in mainstream continental European political discourse (which excludes of course the far right and the Eastern European fringe).

    A fundamentalist obsession with borders and border controls (described very accurately by this ex Tory MEP as "British paranoia about frontiers" http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a395ccd4-9fb1-11dc-8031-0000779fd2ac.html
    ) that is also duplicitous and hypocritical, i.e. if the UK, alone among all countries in the EU rejects the idea of open and non-policed borders *inside* the EU in the name of protecting their country against illegal immigration, terrorism etc. by the same logic they should immeditely introduce policed borders between England-Scotland-Wales and NI, as for example, a lot of illegal immigration in the UK originally enters the country via England, i.e. via the channel or major airports such as Heathrow (for example hidden in lorries, or under false identities or with visas that are then breached). Using their same logic, why shouldn't Scotland, Wales or NI protect themselves against "importing" terrorists or illegal immigrants from England?

    So, in short, no, this message was not lost in translation, if anything it was slightly inaccurate and also fell somewhat short of the full description. Of course, if the French minister had used words fundamentalist or duplicitous, that would have caused a serious "Euro bust-up".

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  • 78. At 7:15pm on 06 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Me_rijn

    Re Your #74

    Honestly! I'm beginning to think you must be the EU-cloned EUrocrat skulking in the corridors that our forefathers warned us about!

    I refer you to my #38 and #57 (and indirectly my #71).

    You are simply missing the (y)oke as they remarked in '1066 and all that'

    Now scurry off and look up whatever you need in order to counter my rather petty, trivial (j)oke at your expense in this #Comment.

    Come on (young) man, life does not have to be that serious all the time!

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  • 79. At 7:27pm on 06 Nov 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    @ FBJ 58 "It is unconscious strategy of self-deception, a mental pre-filtering of other possibilities to frame the argument around the one option (federal Europe) they favour."

    And you carry on stubbornly failing to understand that if the majority of EU countries want to go down the federal route (or something that resembles a federal route), as indeed they have already done so in certain areas by signing up to the Euro and Schengen, then you, the Tories, and the UK at large should respect the will of the majority in the EU.

    If the majority of EU countries suddenly said: "Mr Cameron, you are absolutely right. We have gone too far down the federal route. How could we be so stupid?!? we are going to immediately scrap the Euro, reintroduce our old currencies and rebuild our picket fences where uniformed police will stop and scan the travel documents of every single person wanting to cross our borders", then the UK would have won the argument. In the meantime, accept that the UK vision, the Tories vision and your vision of the EU, is not shared by the majority of EU countries. Is that not what democracy is about?

    But to carry on saying "We do not want a federal EU but want to remain in the EU having our own set of rules of our own choice" is undemocratic, puerile, disingenuous and ultimately doomed to failure.

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  • 80. At 9:16pm on 06 Nov 2009, Andy Den Haag wrote:

    There are winners in the EU and there are losers. The winners all love the EU whilst the losers, quite naturally, are eurosceptic. The EU needs reforming and I mean that as re-forming - scrap it and start again. Born from the ruins of world wars, I think we are far enough down the line now to draw a line and start again. Germany needs to reform its constitution. We begin on what we can all agree on - that is we all want free trade - so we set in place the framework to make this happen. We need also to set aside a budget to help in development. Now this doesn't mean paying a lazy french unemployed person money not to farm land he has just rented (this does actually happen). It must be targeting not only at need but also at viability. Arable farming where the soil is infertile is a waste of money. John Major really was ahead of his time with his back to basics campaign. It should have been directed at the EU.

    If we start with the simple things, the benefits are easy to quantify and so the EU gets a much better image.

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  • 81. At 9:37pm on 06 Nov 2009, PlanetEnglish wrote:

    The French Minister is using language that would be considered decent; they have been waiting since 1814 for this moment.
    Wait till the niceties are over.
    Well, they will probably instruct President Blair to convey the indignities they have in store.
    195 years in waiting for this moment.
    And it will be double when the Germans join in.
    This is what our leadership has willingly submitted to.
    Why cant the people of UK be trusted to have more sense ?

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  • 82. At 9:37pm on 06 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #66 - nautonier

    Having made my point somewhat irreverently, I have to say that your response is eminently reasonable - although I don't happen to agree with you.

    However, I think before you start being too dismissive of the Irish opt-out on immigration, you should perhaps ask yourself why they need it at all and you may find on reflection that they would not need it at all were it not for British intransigence given the very high proportion of visitors to that country who pass through the UK to get there.

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  • 83. At 9:41pm on 06 Nov 2009, PlanetEnglish wrote:

    The French Minister was being decent.
    Wait till the niceties are over.
    They have been waiting for 195 years since 1814.
    When the Germans join in, it wont be half as decent.
    Waiting to see if David Miliband can let his actions speak.
    I dont know if N Labour expected anything different.
    Why cant they trust the people of UK to make the choice ?

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  • 84. At 9:52pm on 06 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    democracythreat and threnodio, no, "Eastern" Europe won't run back to mommy Russia not a single one. Not now :o) Why so much haste? We're here for a long time :o) Learn from China, ab long-term planning :o)))))))

    Seriously, there is Eastern Europe and Eastern Europe.
    A. None of it was USSR - which many people forget, tossing "all things, those, "Soviet" - together.
    ________________________________

    Some were "Warsaw Pact Eastern Block" - like Hungary - for a short time. 40 yrs. Brief acquaintance that left mixed impressions about the party :o)))) Morning after.

    Others were Russian Empire - AND then the "Warsaw Pact" - thus, in the orbit for 3-4 hundred years. (now, that's an interesting part :o)))))
    To put it simply more used to crazy Russians and crazy Russians are more used to their individual crazities.

    But even these can relax about Russian desire to re-unite - there is none so far, what's 20 yrs of separation compared to our centuries together - pff.

    I'd say presently Russia looks for closer ties within the USSR, which excludes Eastern Europe - who we are eager not to influence in any way -having a choice of ex-14 boy-friends much closer at hand :o))))

    I think it's critical Belorussia and Ukraine (the "good" part of it :o)
    are back - for the sake of the ? whatever the formation is called after -survival.

    I think if they aren't back Russia will manage any way, but just about barely - and with a huge piece of luck. At a hair's how to say, close shave - Russky God willing - one more time. (they without us are goners to be dissolved and dilluted to clean water 100%)

    Without Belorussia and (good part of) Ukraine back - Russia will strive to team up with our South and Asian ex-boy-friends, Kazakhstan etc.
    Oh.

    Unless we find a boy-friend in Europe :o)))) - we don't need all or many - just 1.

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  • 85. At 9:53pm on 06 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #83 - PlanetEnglish

    "Why cant they trust the people of UK to make the choice ?"

    They did. They elected the present government into office. It's called parliamentary democracy. If you don't like it, vote for someone else next time.

    It is often said that people get the government they deserve. Never is that more true than when they get to choose it themselves.

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  • 86. At 10:01pm on 06 Nov 2009, nautonier wrote:

    65. At 4:29pm on 06 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #63 - nautonier

    You want the EU to convene a special court for the sole purpose of determining whether the British government have acted lawfully in not consulting the British people as to whether they want to have anything to do with the EU which you want to convene a special court for the sole . . . . . and so on and on and on?

    Talk about having your cake, eating it and choking on it.


    82. At 9:37pm on 06 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #66 - nautonier

    Having made my point somewhat irreverently, I have to say that your response is eminently reasonable - although I don't happen to agree with you.

    However, I think before you start being too dismissive of the Irish opt-out on immigration, you should perhaps ask yourself why they need it at all and you may find on reflection that they would not need it at all were it not for British intransigence given the very high proportion of visitors to that country who pass through the UK to get there.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Talk about having your cake, eating it and choking on it. Are you for real!

    The Irish are certainly choking on their cake - massive EU handouts and an opt out on immigration - No wonder they accepted the Lisbon treaty!

    The more this is examined the worse Brown's treachery becomes!

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  • 87. At 10:08pm on 06 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    I know it is hilarious to even think that Russia needs "more land" - for the 3.5 people left in it - but note -

    A. all do! (why) I don't know why - but it goes without saying all think we are in search of more "countries", lands, grabs.
    B. WE still think we need to "expand", to "team up with someone" - it is true - I think so, all around do. I can't explain what for, but there is a drive for it.

    Either we are incorrigibly friendly :o)))) or - there is a feeling we need someone for balance. Like a third leg.

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  • 88. At 10:22pm on 06 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    ChrisArta @23, ab FreeBorn John taking "E40" all the way to St. Petersburg (to turn after Germany) "a few kilometres " ... etc. :o) - where WebAlice meeets him with a "bottle of vodka" :o)))))) and ? some snacks. :o))) Approximately.
    :o)))))

    "a few kilometres" (after Germany) FreeBorn John will have to change the tyres of his car, somewhat, to the tank version. Russia is not convinced yet that the times became "safe" to start building the roads by which visitors can get throughout its territory to whenever one wishes!

    To be on the safe side, we keep no roads by which even locals can get from one inhabited place to another. :o) This also helps to keep the remains of the population at home at the tsar's disposal :o))))

    If one could get out of home town without a tank - why! there would be no one left shortly! :o)))))



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  • 89. At 10:30pm on 06 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    In view of the latest developments, I'd think we shall soon rather destroy a couple of roads built by mistake :o)))).

    So, Jukks, stop nagging for "a highway Tallinn-Helsinki-Moscow", you don't know what you are asking for. Incredible Finnish suggestions are like a "Finka!" /a Finnish knife! into the heart of our Defence Ministry - but Medvedev can't explain this to your President and can only smile nicely. So I will :o))))

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  • 90. At 10:55pm on 06 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Nicolas @29 "..prefers EU to remain weak - Russia, China..."

    I have a feeling we don't know what we prefer. It is still a question in which format European countries are "stronger". Even that you don't question it - Russia does. Then, who are you - future enemy or friends? We don't know. What's good for us - that you are "strong" or "weak"? No answer. Life, you know, kicks out such tricks - you never know who you'll address for help next. Kind of - "don't spit into the well - will come handy - to drink water".

    I think Russia takes it quite philosophically "all that is done is done for better".

    The only thing - it is more difficult for businesses to deal with the EU than with individual countries. It is hard enough to certify Russian products in individual countries, and you EU laws are stricter. Simply because when a whole set of countries sits down to think together what is "safe" - they come up with a far more expanded list of details. Than one country, who can simply forget something :o)))), in its list. Simple result of too well done thinking ! :o)))

    But then what we trade with is mostly simple oil and gas, where the "certification" work has been done, and for other areas - well, then, "not in this life". :o)))))

    Another issue is visas for Russian tourists; there has been many countries bent over the knee, made by the EU to ask Russians for visas, while themselves they don't want them, but what to do. Like Cyprus, who fought for us a long battle, pointing out they are an island and all, and where will Russians get spread, and that please no, but ce la vie.

    Russian tourists are last minute tourists, we don't plan things in advance, and these visas are really a nuisance. People now go instead for holidays where it's stamped in the airport for 10 dollars automatically on arrival, as it was in Cyprus past 20 years.

    Such things, a bit of worry here, a bit of trouble there, but nothing strategic type "Oh give us "weak" Europe please".

    We don't compete for nothing - remember - but Ukraine's attentions :o)))) And even there - only because of our Crimea left there by mistake, mostly.

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  • 91. At 11:01pm on 06 Nov 2009, bena gyerek wrote:

    benefactor @ 49

    i agree that my argument was somewhat oversimplified, but i think that substantially it is correct.

    my point is this: when i vote in a uk general election, although i technically vote for an mp, effectively i am voting for a government, and that is what decides how i vote. i can choose between 2-3 parties that could form that government. i can look at a manifesto of policies that each party would (they say) implement if they come to power. i can look at each party's national leader and his team, and know that these people would form the government if they win. and i know that, albeit the uk electoral system is not perfect, the party that wins the biggest share of the vote will go on to form that government.

    even after lisbon, i don't think that the same will be true of european elections (though i hope i am wrong). when i go to vote, i doubt i will have any clue how my vote will influence who becomes commission president, or who will form his/her commission, because i expect that the appointment of the commission president will continue to be dominated by horse-trading between national governments, while the commisioners will still get picked by their relevant individual national governments. maybe the european election results will have some bearing, but i doubt it will be a case of "if the epp wins, i know that x becomes president (with these people forming his/her team), if the socialists win, i know that y becomes president (ditto)." for the same reason, i doubt the election outcome will decide what policy programme gets pursued by the commission, as this will again be decided by what the national governments agree to.

    please let me know if you think i am wrong. i would be delighted if i am.

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  • 92. At 11:09pm on 06 Nov 2009, bena gyerek wrote:

    f-j @ 51

    that is very defeatist. i don't think david cameron would make as easy a target as declan ganley, if he actually came out with what i am proposing. like it or not, your "federalist attack dogs" would have to take him seriously. on the other hand, if he did make this argument, i expect he would get a nasty savaging by europhobic attack dogs.

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  • 93. At 11:51pm on 06 Nov 2009, David wrote:

    Well, somebody was complaining about the EU designation of 23 languages, when there are actually more than 200+.

    It sounds like one law too many... and probably should be removed....

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  • 94. At 00:00am on 07 Nov 2009, bena gyerek wrote:

    f-j @ 58

    "a world of democratic nation-states that eschew supranationalism and co-operate with one another using inter-governmental means"

    isn't this exactly what the eu is at the moment? isn't inter-governmentalism exactly the reason why the eu is so opaque and aloof?

    the problems with intergovernmentalism are:

    1) it only works when you have a policeman (the commission and the ecj) that ensures everyone sticks to what they agreed.

    2) once you have too many governments, you end up with the classic committee-meeting outcomes: a lot of backroom horse-trading, either no agreement at all (because someone vetoed) or a really ugly compromise that nobody likes, and then every member of the committee leaves the meeting feeling free to criticise the outcome.

    3) there are so many policy areas that (i) can only be dealt with at the international level (immigration, crime, security, trade, finance, environment, etc, etc) and (ii) are classic prisoner-dilemma-style public goods (i.e. every national government has an incentive to allow the other governments to do all the hard work, though they still benefit from the outcome). the best way to resolve these problems is to have someone with a mandate to speak for the common international interest.

    give me federalism any day:
    - direct democratic accountability of the commission through the threat of reelection
    - the commission given a democratic mandate to act as a check on the grand plans and half-baked compromises born out of inter-governmental horse-trading
    - meaningful european elections that enable an open dialogue with the public about what the eu should actually do

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  • 95. At 01:51am on 07 Nov 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA;

    "Then, who are you - future enemy or friends? We don't know. What's good for us..."

    For Russia it doesn't matter who the enemy is. What is important is to have enemies. One day it's Germany, the next America, then China, then America again so long as there is an enemy. Having an enemy for Russia serves many purposes. For one it excuses the government's miserable failure to make life better at home. "We are doing the best we can, we are at war with the enemy." Then it justifies expenditures on the military. That is very important to Russian pride and to the Russian government. Russia can say "We have the most missiles, the most bombers, the most H-bombs. We can destroy America 100 times over."

    Here's something I'll bet they didn't teach you in school when Russia was a communist country. In 1905 the Russian army was humiliated by Japan in the Russo Japanese war. And who negotiated the peace that let Russia save face? President Theodore Roosevelt. That in itself was humiliating enough. During the cold war, it was kept secret on both sides for entirely different reasons around 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis that the USSR was very weak militarily. The USSR expended all its energies trying to catch up to the Americans. 75% of the Soviet economy was devoted to the military. Its consumer products economy was about the size of Singapore's. By the time Reagan was president, the USSR had the power to destroy the US many many times over. But the psychology of military inferiority was still there. By ratcheting up the nuclear arms race, Reagan played to the Soviet Union's military nightmares instead of its logic. As a consequence he wiped out the Soviet economy completely and ended the cold war. The USSR literally went bankrupt. Now we hear every kind of nonsense about why the USSR ended. It was Pope John Paul II. It was the Beatles. It was Gorbachev. It was this, it was that. Baloney. It went belly up like any other failed enterprise for lack of money.

    Good thing Russia has oil and gas. Without that, it would be starving. Europe will feed Russia to keep from freezing. Russia will keep the valves open to keep from starving. Ever hear of Jack Sprat and his wife? A marriage made in hell.

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  • 96. At 02:57am on 07 Nov 2009, Mia wrote:

    Translations aside, given how quickly the comment was broadcasted everywhere I doubt Lellouche had much time to formulate an eloquent answer, one which would translate better into the English language.

    It provided an apt "continental" response to Cameron's EU policy. Granted the headlining by many of the papers may have been somewhat attention-seeking but would you expect a positive response to a policy that essentially dismissed the EU as a useful partner?

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  • 97. At 03:07am on 07 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    MA, on the enemies. You missed my last post in Obama and Europe. Judging by state TV - this week it is Turkey. We are still new to the idea :o))) and find it kind of, not very convincing, but the Govt. couldn't come up with anything better. For the United States grabatised all the best enemies around!

    You keep for yourself so many - there is nothing left for Russia, poor Kremlin searched high and low to find a vacant one.

    On starving - Russia has own agriculture that supplies btw 40 to 60%, in beef chicken and vegies, and only interesting complex things like fruit and cheese are imported. Straight simple stuff is home grown. Gas or no gas - we will starve last in these quarters.

    On the past century - to put it shortly - by 1970s USSR won. The competition with the USA. Not in the comfort for people, as this wasn't ever the point, but in those heavy things other. Electricity made, and energy, and rate of growth, and geographic span type "world countries other under umbrella" and armament race. By 1974 we could have, how to put it elegantly, and stay on the map. But there was un-sured? ness in own achievements, we basically didn't believe own happiness, were un-sure of ourselves. Or some other reasons that many are puzzled about. Anyway something held our hand.

    The next funny bit is in 1991 something held you. Something, that many are puzzled about likewise. You were also only a flick of a second away from destrying us. But must be also, LOL - didn't trust own luck.

    So don't give me this old "us" or "them" we played it so long with the USA that won't start it with Europe. Or with you again. It's not doomed to be. You wear yourself away, and even - here it is - the goal - just stretch you hand - and you don't do it. There is something in this world, my friend Horatio, that our wise men didn't even dream about.

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  • 98. At 05:20am on 07 Nov 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    I note that Gerald Warner over at the Telegraph now refers to "Cameron's Vichy Tories."


    Good stuff!!



    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/geraldwarner/100015984/mesdames-kirkbride-and-truss-may-cost-camerons-vichy-tories-two-seats-hurrah/

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  • 99. At 06:37am on 07 Nov 2009, Mathiasen wrote:

    #91.and benagyerek

    You are missing one factor in your account: The commission must be adopted by the European parliament (EP). Generally the EP is a means to let the electorate of the union have more influence and the national governments less influence, which of course is something for instance the British government is strictly against. However, it is not the only one to be reluctant.

    There is a clash of interests between small and large countries in this. The small countries insisted during the negotiation of the LT that each country should continue to have a member of the commission. It is a principle that creates much political support for the EU at home in the member states, and it should therefore not be underestimated.
    It is also a principle that also supports the idea that the national governments appoint the commissioner. Very often this person has experience as a minister, and it increases the probability that the appointed has the necessary political skills. Add to this that the person needs to have language skills. The whole selection process underscores the role of the member states governments.

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  • 100. At 08:39am on 07 Nov 2009, bena gyerek wrote:

    mathiasen @ 99

    i don't think the ep's role in adopting the commission amounts to very much, apart from a situation where the commission is utterly inept, and the parliament is in a mood to throw its weight around (i am thinking of the santer commission). but the ability to approve the national governments' nominations is a far cry from the ability to nominate the commission themselves.

    as for the national governments' nomination of commissioners ensuring high quality candidates, i wholeheartedly disagree with you. when a national government chooses its commissioner, its choice usually has a lot more to do with national politics (which party's turn is it to have a commissioner, who will push national interests, who can we boot upstairs, who needs a consolation prize for some unfortunate failure on the national political scene, etc etc), than to do with the basic question of who is the most competent candidate. national governments aren't especially concerned with how competent their commissioner turns out to be - that is the commission's problem. and once appointed, the commissioner always has one eye on a return to the national political scene, and always enjoys a certain amount of independence from the commission president because he/she enjoys national patronage that circumvents the president's authority. imagine a situation where the uk prime minister could not sack his own chancellor without the consent of the london assembly.

    my preference would be to have all commissioners appointed by (and replaceable by) the commission president, collective commission responsibility to the european counsel and parliament (i.e. they can only be sacked collectively, not individually), and scrap all the nationality quotas for commissioners except that there would be a minimum number of commissioners that must come from small countries (however defined). then the commission president would be free to choose who he thinks (a) is most talented and/or (b) will curry the most favour with the european electorate, just like it happens on any national political scene. i doubt very much you would have any large country not represented in the commission, as this would be electoral suicide by the commission president. however, i agree that a nationality rule would be needed to make sure that smaller countries collectively are well represented (even if e.g. slovenia or ireland had to individually forego a commissioner because the commission simply isn't big enough to accommodate them).

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  • 101. At 10:24am on 07 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:

    79. At 7:27pm on 06 Nov 2009, JorgeG1 wrote:
    @ FBJ 58 "It is unconscious strategy of self-deception, a mental pre-filtering of other possibilities to frame the argument around the one option (federal Europe) they favour."

    And you carry on stubbornly failing to understand that if the majority of EU countries want to go down the federal route (or something that resembles a federal route), as indeed they have already done so in certain areas by signing up to the Euro and Schengen, then you, the Tories, and the UK at large should respect the will of the majority in the EU.
    ************************

    JorgeG1, your post is written very much in the manner of someone who, if not a political member of the EU Parliament or Comission, has very close links to it, I apologise if that's not correct, however you are making the same mistake that so many EU fanatics make; IT IS NOT THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE OF THE EU IT IS THE WILL OF THEIR GOVERNMENTS.
    Here in the UK there is a definite majority who would have voted against Lisbon,. There is probably a majority who would also like to leave the EU completely. I am convinced that the people of a number of European Countries are also of a similar mind. That is why the politicians will not risk putting it to the test.
    So please in future posts, when you refer to the will of the majority of the EU, can you make it quite clear that what you mean is the will of the GOVERNMENTS of the EU not necessarily its PEOPLE.

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  • 102. At 10:39am on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #101 - Zydeco

    I cannot speak for JorgeG1 but, for my own part, I shall certainly acknowledge that "Here in the UK there is a definite majority who would have voted against Lisbon" when and if you can demonstrate it to be true.

    Until you can, I will continue to treat such claims with the scepticism they deserve.

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  • 103. At 10:43am on 07 Nov 2009, Mathiasen wrote:

    #100. and benagyerek
    You are making a very dangerous alteration of my words. I did not write:
    “the national governments' nomination of commissioners ensuring high quality candidates”.
    The key problem here is the word “high”.

    As long as governments appoint commissioners it is their understanding of quality that counts, and we probably all realise that quality here is connected to ideology. A conservative government is unlikely to appoint a social democrat and vice versa.

    Also the rule you suggest is not valid, actually it is a new dangerous misunderstanding. You write:
    “national governments aren't especially concerned with how competent their commissioner turns out to be - that is the commission's problem.”

    I can guarantee one thing: The Danish government has been VERY interested in the competence of the agricultural commissioner. (She is Danish. She is also handling the largest budget. Thirdly: The Danes want this area to be regulated by the market and guess who is strictly against it: The Frenchmen.)
    There is no rule saying: Governments will always appoint incompetent commissioners.
    There is no rule saying: Other structures will always appoint competent commissioners.

    Concerning the adoption of commissioners: I shall not go into the possible scenarios, I think you know them, but what happens if the Danish commissioner enforces a market radical agricultural policy that goes across the entire French agriculture?
    In general I prefer the EP to control the commissioners with the assistance of the press. We can be sure that a government will always take care of its interests.

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  • 104. At 11:24am on 07 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:

    102. At 10:39am on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:
    #101 - Zydeco

    I cannot speak for JorgeG1 but, for my own part, I shall certainly acknowledge that "Here in the UK there is a definite majority who would have voted against Lisbon" when and if you can demonstrate it to be true.

    Until you can, I will continue to treat such claims with the scepticism they deserve.
    ************************
    Just take a look at any of the YouGov, Mori or Harris polls taken over the years and the figures are there for all to see.

    I said in one of Gavin's earlier blogs on the same subject, that one of the things Eurosceptics like myself do, is to look for information.
    I also said that Europhiles accept whatever is pur before them and dismiss any anti EU information. Its a broad statement I know and not all will fit into the pattern, but it is based on personal dealings with persons from both sides.
    I have the same argument with a number of people about the Treaty itself. I have read both it and the Constitution and, whilst like many, I don't profess to understand every nuance of it, at least I have some basis for my scepticism.
    A common attitude from EU supporters is to accept at face value what Europhiles tell them.
    I don't try to convince anyone else to think the same way as me, nor by the same token to I expect to have my opinion altered by others.
    Its called debate and long may it reign.

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  • 105. At 11:35am on 07 Nov 2009, euormartin wrote:

    They can say it with flowers

    So the British Tories were taken aback by language used by the French Secretary of State for European Affairs....."they had "castrated" their influence in Europe" he said. "They have one line and they just repeat the line. It is a very bizarre sense of autism". He denounced their plans to bring back fffffff...pppp powers from Brussels to Britain as "pathetic". 8:51 UK time, Thursday, 5 November 2009
    Just two days officially married and the sparks are flying about. But no one said it would be a bed of roses......ooops ..I meant I Iris....not her of course but the Fleur. But soon, as young lovers so often do, there was the make-up......not the cosmetic kind but genuine kiss and....steady......just words really... nice ones like I didn't mean what I said........ it was a mis-understanding.....and so on and on and on.....why can't they just send flowers....

    In the language of flowers, an Iris means: your friendship means so much to me.

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  • 106. At 12:07pm on 07 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:

    85. At 9:53pm on 06 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:
    #83 - PlanetEnglish

    "Why cant they trust the people of UK to make the choice ?"

    They did. They elected the present government into office. It's called parliamentary democracy. If you don't like it, vote for someone else next time.
    *****************************

    Yup. Like many others I exercised my democratic right and voted for the party that PROMISED us a referendum on Europe. There were few other reasons to put my cross against their candidate but giving me a chance to vote on Europe won my vote.
    So did they give us that chance to make a choice?
    Parliamentary democracy is a joke - and a sick one at that!

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  • 107. At 12:16pm on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #104 - Zydeco

    I agree with just about all of that and I have only two problems.

    Firstly, whether you agree or not, it is a simple statement of fact (just read the posts for yourself) that many EU sceptic simply take for granted that the string of public opinion polls to which they refer constantly are an accurate reflection of what the people would following a full and frank debate of all the issues involved. Since we have not had the debate, still less a test, I do not accept that you can rely on the polls.

    Secondly, the samples used my be scientifically chosen but millions are not. To regard them as reliable in any real sense stretches credibility to breaking point.

    One final point. Labour, LibDems, Plaid, SNP and Greens have all come out in favour of Lisbon. The Tories, some reluctantly, have decided they cannot back peddle. Short of voting into office an unlikely and unholy alliance of BNP, UKIP and Sinn Fein, Lisbon is a done deal, a fact of life, yesterday's news. Unless you believe and desire that Cameron can unravel swathes of EU conditions, in some case requiring unanimity, there is only one question left and that is the substantive question of whether to leave or stay. The chance of a government being elected which has the political will to put the question is, I suggest, remote indeed.

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  • 108. At 12:18pm on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #105 - euormartin

    What about a nice bunch of deadly nightshade and good bottle of vintage hemlock?

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  • 109. At 12:38pm on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #106 - Zydeco

    The problem is that we are starting to go round in circles.

    They promised you a referendum on the constitution, they gave you Lisbon instead, its the same thing (Giscard), oh no it isn't (Barosso), oh yes it is (sceptics), oh no it isn't (europhiles). . .

    It is s degenerating into a pantomime.

    It is done and dusted. If you are disgusted, blame the politicians at Westminster. If you were sold down the track, they were the vendors, not Brussels - and if you don't like it, throw your weight once and for all behind pulling out. That is your ultimate and only option.

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  • 110. At 1:03pm on 07 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:

    *107* *109* Threnodio

    Yes, gotta agree that we are going round in circles. That is a symptom of the complexity of all things EU. Information is either lacking or so turtuous to read that it doesn't get read or it is not understood. That is why so much of the argument is really based on one's own value judgement. I'll put my hands up and admit I'm in the camp that says ' No to Europe until there is a good reason to say Yes'.
    I take your point about whether the polls do accurately reflect what would happen if an actual vote was taken, however there are few alternative measures that allow a judgement to be made. But, arguably, it was because of the polls that the referendum was denied us. I therefore humbly suggest that politicans take polls as an important measure of how things might be and regard them with more seriousness than they would have us believe.
    Until an actual ballot is held on the subject you're right, nobody really knows.
    The possible outcome though is certainly strong enough to dissuade any Government from taking a chance and calling a vote.

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  • 111. At 1:22pm on 07 Nov 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA;

    "For the United States grabatised all the best enemies around!"

    America is a wealthy country. It can afford the best enemies. Russia has to settle for Turkey, America has already acquired Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia, China, the EU, North Korea, and many more. We left the crumbs for Russia. What's the matter, don't you like Turkey? Try it with candied sweet potatoes, chestnut stuffing, corn, and of course cranberry sauce. Pumpkin pie for desert. Thanksgiving is coming, at least here it is.

    "On the past century - to put it shortly - by 1970s USSR won. The competition with the USA. Not in the comfort for people, as this wasn't ever the point, but in those heavy things other. Electricity made, and energy, and rate of growth, and geographic span type "world countries other under umbrella" and armament race. By 1974 we could have, how to put it elegantly, and stay on the map. But there was un-sured? ness in own achievements, we basically didn't believe own happiness, were un-sure of ourselves. Or some other reasons that many are puzzled about. Anyway something held our hand."

    Kennedy once boasted to Khrushchev that the US could destroy the USSR ten times over. Khrushchev told him the USSR could destroy America only one time. By the 1970s either country could have destroyed the other 100 times over and neither side could stop the other if they decided to attack. It was an arms race nobody could win. That is why the American policy was calld "Mutually Assured Destruction" or MAD for short. War for either side was suicide. There was no anti-missile system either side could possibly deploy that would have stopped the other side from being able to retaliate, there still isn't. What we now know is that even if one side didn't strike back, the attacking side would have destroyed itself and everyone else by attacking because of nuclear winter not to mention radioactive fallout. Nobody won the arms race but Russia is still figthing it with new missiles it doesn't need and can't possibly use. If you have one dollar and it becomes two dollars, you grew 100 percent. If you have one million dollars and it becomes 1.1 million dollars you grew only ten percent. That is why Russia's rate of growth was faster than the US's and why China's is faster now too. What does it mean when 500 million Chinese live on less than $2 a day? What does it mean when a country with 4 times as many people has less than one quarter the size of the economy the other has? You want land? Canada has lots of land. A vast frozen useless tundra like much of Russia. Most Canadians live within 100 miles of their southern border with the US. I think they huddle there hoping for warmth in the winter.

    The US did not want to kill Russians, it wanted to destroy the USSR. And when it did, nobody was more surprised than the US was itself. We thought it would never die. The Europeans have never forgiven America for destroying it, they wanted to be part of it. That is why they are creating their own right now, the EUSSR. It will be exactly the same, in 25 years you wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

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  • 112. At 1:29pm on 07 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:

    109. At 12:38pm on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    It is done and dusted. If you are disgusted, blame the politicians at Westminster. If you were sold down the track, they were the vendors, not Brussels - and if you don't like it, throw your weight once and for all behind pulling out. That is your ultimate and only option.
    *****************

    I accept it is 'done and dusted'. I am a realist and see no point in holding any referendum for other than an 'IN or OUT' vote. That ain't gonna happen!
    It will not though stop me being wary and suspicious of the EU. There are too many politicians of dubious reputation or of proven incompetence involved in its running. A small example: Blair gave away £6billion of our rebate in exchange for a reworking of the CAP. Nothing was done and no-one asked why or requested our rebate back.
    I've mentioned before that I have a sea-faring background and have family members who were and are still badly affected by the EU fishing policy. No-one is ever going to convince them that the EU is good for Britain.
    I suspect that once the EU's future policy on things like road pricing and immigration are made known there will be further levels of dis-satisfaction aroused.
    I would dearly love the EU to work. But it won't. It's too big and, unlike the USA it is too diverse in its cultures, traditions and language. At least when the American States were formed, they were all American and all spoke English.

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  • 113. At 3:29pm on 07 Nov 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8347438.stm

    There are problems with the sale of the house in which Hitler was born.

    The "EU" has similarities with the Third Reich.

    The "EU" should buy it and turn it into a shrine to megalomania.

    Maybe they should take the route that Moses took and claim that God told then to do it or that God put them in charge and finally turn the "EU" into a religion.

    Maybe Sarkozy, Merkel, Blair, Barrosso and others went to the top of a mountain and God gave them the Lisbon Treaty on tablets of stone.

    Blair was reported as saying "I answer to God." i.e. the rest of us can just get lost because our opinions don't count.

    Maybe there should be high priests for this religion. I suggest they should be dressed in blue clown suits with gold stars on them, walk backwards with heir legs crossed, singing the "EU" national anthem , balancing the Lisbon Treaty on their heads and measuring stuff in metric.

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  • 114. At 4:43pm on 07 Nov 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To SuffolkBoy2 (113):

    Dude, if God spoke to our EU leaders, then what would be the difference between us and the Americans then? Think about it.

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  • 115. At 5:02pm on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #110 - 112 - Zydeco

    Now we are coming around to something close to agreement.

    I am quite happy to concede a fundamentally flawed process by which Lisbon was achieved. I think it was deceitfully introduced without adequate consultation by a body of politicians who are collectively unworthy to be in charge of such an important project. Agreed?

    I consider the Brown administration to be one of the most ineffective and incompetent governments in my not inconsiderable life-span and that their handling of all things EU related has been cowardly to the point of being downright deceitful. Again, would we agree?

    Now this leaves the three areas in which we would probably not agree but I would be interested to know what you think.

    Firstly, that we do have a unique opportunity in Europe to create a modern and forward looking organisation which both meets the requirements of a modern democracy and has the potential to be a major global power in its own right but, in order to achieve this, many of us - not exclusively the British - have to put aside old values of empire which are dead or claims to the institutional moral high ground which no longer belong exclusively to the English speaking world.

    Secondly, that Lisbon may be suspect on the grounds that it was deviously and inappropriately introduced but that does not, in itself, make it a bad document and therefore, logically . .

    Thirdly, it is not the institution of the EU that is the problem but the miserable apologies for states people who are currently entrusted with running the place.

    In other words, are you open to the idea that this 'monster' can be tamed from within and brought to account democratically from within: The reason I ask is because I believe the isolation of the UK from the process of democratising the UK would be a betrayal that would make the previous acts of treachery pale into insignificance.

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  • 116. At 5:04pm on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #113 - SuffolkBoy2

    "Maybe they should take the route that Moses took . . . "

    Or turn right past the Red Sea and end up with all the oil instead of Jaffas?

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  • 117. At 5:06pm on 07 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Jukka, I think it is un-wise to start with "Dude". I know what you mean and the others know that you mean nothing bad but I strongly suspect it's wrong somehow, in terms of using English. I am not sure ut it seems suspicious to me. You can also tell me to stop with "anyway" every second word, and all - "and all" :o))) It's English-language media and will be far better if we don't do the same mistakes every time, but make new ones every time - less anoying :o))))

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  • 118. At 5:31pm on 07 Nov 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    @ 101. At 10:24am on 07 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:

    "JorgeG1, your post is written very much in the manner of someone who, if not a political member of the EU Parliament or Comission, has very close links to it, I apologise if that's not correct, however you are making the same mistake that so many EU fanatics make; IT IS NOT THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE OF THE EU IT IS THE WILL OF THEIR GOVERNMENTS."

    I have been accused of this before, unfortunately neither myself, nor anybody in my family has any close links to the EU. I can assure you that it would suit me financially. It would also give me the opportunity to leave this country for good, something that I want to do but I am just planning for it. I just happen to have suffered a considerable financial and personal pain due to the British opt outs from the euro and Schengen. That is why, to me, I don't really care that much about the LT or the Constitution. That is very small change compared to the huge step into the future that the euro and Schengen represent. As the UK is the only EU country that has rejected the euro and Schengen, I observe these obsessive debates about referenda on the LT with bemusement.

    I happen to hold the view that the reasons that the Europhobes hate the EU, the euro and Schengen et al, but particularly the latter two, are simply classic reactionary politics dressed up as something intellectual: "I am against change, terrified by change, and want preserve the status quo, a nineteenth century notion of sovereignty with all their trappings, all served with the new aim of the UK into becoming more like North Korea and less like continental Europe."

    "Making Britain more like North Korea"
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/72b1ab96-8dea-11de-93df-00144feabdc0.html

    With regards to the will of the people. I am the first one in favour. As you do, I favour an IN or OUT referendum, meaning fully in or fully out. I am not in favour any other referendum.

    One of the most misunderstood aspects of the EU is that it is an intergovernmental organization with some federalist additions (e.g. the euro and Schengen). The UK political elite is the first one who is hell-bent on keeping the EU as an intergovernmental organisation. For example, people say that the process of electing a president is obscure and undemocratic. It is not if you consider that the EU is ultimately an intergovernmental organisation, i.e. the heads of government choose the president, I think by QMV. I would definitely prefer an EU wide vote, but that is not possible without fundamentally changing the nature of the EU, i.e. moving it closer to a confederation or a federation. By the same token, that is exactly how the LT or the constitution should have been voted, via a popular vote on the same day to be held across the EU. The UK is the first country that is against this type of confederation style democracy and has fought tooth and nail to keep the status quo, being the sole member of an EU that only exists in history books, the one that existed when all EU countries had their individual currencies and their own picket fences separating themselves because, seemingly they were scared of each other. It seems that twenty years ago they decided that being scared of each other was a 1930s relique. All, except the UK, agreed.

    The UK remains alone in the EU of the 1980s, proudly standing as a country scared of the rest of the EU, hence the picket fences, and even more scared of its own shadow.

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  • 119. At 5:34pm on 07 Nov 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    Correction to my previous post: "As the UK is the only EU country that has rejected BOTH the euro and Schengen..."

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  • 120. At 5:42pm on 07 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:

    *115* Threnodio

    I fully agree with your first two paragraphs, in fact I believe that whichever point of view you take, there would be agreement from most on them.
    Your third paragraph gives me a mixed reaction in that I am of such mature years that I am probably too English - in the old fashioned sense - to ever become a devoted European. However I have children, grand-children and great-grand-children who will have to live with whatever comes as a result of closer European union. I try, in so far as possible to think of the future in terms of how it may affect them.
    Yes the potential for Europe should be good and in terms of what it is costing us we demand it must be good. Which leads to your next point. It isn't good and it won't be good because a) the people running it are more interested in the power they have than what to do with that power. Until that changes I cannot see any progression towards making it a better organisation. b) One of the circles I'm afraid - the EU needs to be sure it has the support of it populace to progress. This is where we do differ. Until such a mandate - not just from the UK but from all Nations - is obtained, there will always be some doubt about the validity of its purpose and who it is really working for.
    The 'monster' MUST be tamed, full stop. Like it or loath it it's here to stay and somehow or other it must be made to work. It won't be in my lifetime I'm certain. However for a combination of the reasons above, I'm not sure it can be changed - either from without or within.
    Sorry to bring up an old cliche, but when one looks at some of the Countries that are not in the EU and sees how they are doing, both politically and economically, I query just what benefits the UK is getting.
    I have some sympathy with the suggestion by another blogger earlier who said scrap the lot and start again. Nice idea but that's all it will ever be.

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  • 121. At 5:55pm on 07 Nov 2009, Zydeco wrote:

    *118* JorgeG1

    I repeat my apology to you.

    Please read my *120* which hopefully will give you a further insight as to why I feel the way I do about the EU.
    In a nutshell, I think a major cause of some of the resentment shown by people like me to the EU is, as I've already said, the people involved and the way it has been presented.
    There is a major communications gap somewhere which needs to be addressed.
    Not everyone has the ability to look at the information and make sense of it. You and I and others on here can do that and, although our interpretations and conclusions may differ, at least we comment with some insight.
    The EU needs to present itself better. Many people know a lot about the personalities involved but very little about the EU itself.

    There's a job for a good PR person there somewhere!.

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  • 122. At 6:09pm on 07 Nov 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To Zydeco (120):

    You said:
    "Sorry to bring up an old cliche, but when one looks at some of the Countries that are not in the EU and sees how they are doing, both politically and economically, I query just what benefits the UK is getting."

    What countries?

    Like Iceland, bankrupt country aspiring to join the Euro.
    Like Norway, a major oil producer that gets new directives via fax (EEA).
    Like Switzerland, hoarders of the Jewish gold and washers of dirty money.
    Like Ukraine, a recovering ex-Soviet state aspiring for EU membership.
    Like Belarus, a state declined back into Soviet times.
    Like Russia, a paranoid oil empire.

    May I suggest that if UK would join both the Euro and the Schengen it would get more out of its money. You see while the Pound has went down, the Euro has went up and countries that are using the Euro have enjoyed on getting oil and other commodities cheaper and having stable home markets of 300 million people.

    Oh, I forget the ex-Yugoslav states, but I bet that you wouldn't want to compare Britain to them. Turkey however is doing just fine, but then again their base level is much lower than UK's and thus they can more easily develop and grow, I somehow think that you wouldn't want loose 2/3 of UK's GDP to get into that same position, however we never know with the Pound and the Tories.

    So what countries are you referring?

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  • 123. At 6:24pm on 07 Nov 2009, oldnat wrote:

    84. WebAliceinwonderland
    "Ukraine (the "good" part of it :o)"

    One of the many problems of the sudden collapse of empires is that the new states simply have the borders created by the former empire for its own "divide and rule" tactics. That has happened across Africa and the Middle East - now in the territories adjacent to Russia.

    As someone who wants self-determination for my own people, it would be surprising if I didn't have some sympathy for some of yours.

    That's also why those urging the inclusion of Ukraine and Georgia into Nato/EU are unwise. Stalin's borders do not seem to me to be the appropriate basis for international frontiers.

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  • 124. At 6:40pm on 07 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Jukks, @122
    Oh. May be you better continue it, with "Dude".

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  • 125. At 6:42pm on 07 Nov 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To WebAliceinwonderland (84):

    Just noted...

    "Unless we find a boy-friend in Europe :o)))) - we don't need all or many - just 1."

    "Europa was a Phoenician woman of high lineage in Greek mythology, from whom the name of the continent Europe has ultimately been taken."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europa_(mythology)

    So in essence, to rephrase the question... The question is does mother Russia get a new girl friend and do the children of mother Russia accept and adopt their new step-mother? ...Stay tuned for the next episode of the L word the Euroasian version.

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  • 126. At 7:31pm on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #122 - Jukka_Rohila

    I am not sure that rubbishing other countries because it suits your purpose does our cause any good - especially if you spoil it by over-egging the facts. We are familiar with your inbuilt prejudice against Switzerland and Russia (expand it to cover the whole continent and you will read just like MAII) but we also see that there is no substance in the first allegation and the second is a very crude way of criticising an isolation which is not entirely of their own making. We also know that, economic issues notwithstanding, the big problem in Ukraine is the ongoing rift between Yushenko and Timoshenko which can only worsen as the election approaches and which may yet - if Putin is to be believed - cause another default in payments to Gazprom and yet another gas crisis.

    Belorussia - well you just have to be patient - old dictators don't live forever and the remark about Norway is frankly laughable as the one remaining Celtic Tiger still bobbing along nicely on calm waters.

    And you didn't forget the former Yugoslav republics at all. You know as well as I do that they are queuing up to join as soon as they are good and ready but that, for most of them, is a long time away.

    Oldnat, as usual, hits the nail on the head at #123. Until you have properly defined borders and secured international recognition of status, there is no way forward except to be patient.

    As to your #125, Mother Russia will find it far easier to cope with her children when she has figured out who the father is.

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  • 127. At 7:55pm on 07 Nov 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To threnodio_II (126):

    Prejudice? I'm sorry, but being politically correct isn't very helpful or constructive. Zydeco made the claim that there are other European countries, that are not part of the EU, that are doing just fine, and I wanted to know what these countries are. To make the response process more helpful I just listed some usual suspects.

    No really, all the countries, except Russia and Switzerland, want to join the EU. The Norwegian governments have wanted for long to get into the EU, but have not succeeded on getting their electorate on with the program, they just rely on oil revenues and live in a EEA limbo where they are faxed newest directives from Brussels, sounds politically very good place to be. Now Switzerland also has an agreement with the EU, much like the EEA, except that if the Swiss won't accept what EU proposes, the EU can at any time revoke the treaty, again sounds like well thought out place to be.

    You have to put the facts out, now putting the facts out might make somebody sad or angry, but hey, I'm not making these up, I'm just stating them as they are.

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  • 128. At 8:07pm on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #122 - Jukka_Rohila

    Well if "hoarders of the Jewish gold and washers of dirty money" and "a paranoid oil empire" are facts, I dread to think what lurks in your fantasy world.

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  • 129. At 8:21pm on 07 Nov 2009, bena gyerek wrote:

    zydeco,

    i really enjoyed reading your last couple of posts.

    my view is that all politicians are equally badly behaved the world over, partly because of the type of people that the profession attracts, partly because of the pressures of competing to influence policy.

    in any case, my view is that it is best to assume that 99% of the time politicians only act in their self interest, so the key to achieving good policy in the public interest is to make sure that politicians' self interest lines up closely with the public interest.

    this is the main reason i prefer a "federal" solution to the eu, compared with the current intergovernmental mess. put simply, in my lexicon, "intergovernmentalism" means policy making at the european level is driven by negotiation between national governments. "federalism" means that it is driven by a directly democratically elected and accountable european "government" (i.e. the commission).

    this issue is conceptually distinct from the issue of how much power (i.e. policy areas) should be transferred to "brussels". you can have a "small" europe that is no more than a free trade area, but in which all trade issues are run by a "federal" (democratically elected) commission. or you could have the current mess: a "big" europe where everything is still decided by horse-trading amongst national governments behind closed doors.

    unfortunately in the uk, "federal" is a dirty, abused and totally misunderstood word. in the uk, "federal" is akin to "more brussels". this is a shame. but i think if you actually asked the public in the uk (and anywhere else in europe) whether they would like to have the right to vote in (and more importantly to vote out) the people in brussels, i doubt many would say no.

    again, i point to the transformation of london politics since the creation of the london mayoralty. finally people can elect someone who can do something about the underground, buses, trains, london police, etc, etc. these issues were long running frustrations for most londoners, but not high on the agenda at westminster. since the creation of regular london mayoral elections, these issues have been brought to the forefront, and a democratic dialogue with the london public has been created that allows londoners to say what they actually want, and elect london politicians incentivised to deliver it.

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  • 130. At 8:23pm on 07 Nov 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To threnodio_II (128):

    So in essence you are denying that Swiss banks hoarded Jewish gold even while they themselves have paid reparations for the Jewish victims? And washing of dirty money, please, where have you been all this time?

    Dirty Money Flees Swiss Banks for Singapore
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-francis/dirty-money-flees-swiss-b_b_266272.html

    Switzerland 'forced' to give Mobutu family dirty money
    http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/278048,switzerland-forced-to-give-mobutu-family-dirty-money--feature.html

    Spotlight on Dirty Money In Switzerland, London
    http://thejakartaglobe.com/justAdded/spotlight-on-dirty-money-in-switzerland-london/271549

    "Geneva. The amount of money suspected of having been laundered through Switzerland’s financial system more than doubled in 2008 to a record 1.87 billion Swiss francs ($1.64 billion), official figures showed on Thursday."

    And that is that just the top of the iceberg, that is just what is suspected and comes to the attention of the press and officials, lot more is still hidden.

    And for Russia being a paranoid oil empire, well, oil they have and paranoid they are, or what was the deal with their late military exercise West-2009?

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  • 131. At 8:40pm on 07 Nov 2009, oldnat wrote:

    129. benagyerek
    "unfortunately in the uk, "federal" is a dirty, abused and totally misunderstood word"

    There is a conceptual difference between confederal and federal. I suspect you would prefer the former.

    What you say of London is even more true in Wales, NI, and especially Scotland. Even these, however, pale into insignificance compared with the Spanish provinces/nations, US states etc.

    The Left/Right argument in politics is essentially a fiction left over from the 20th century.

    The new political driver needs to be determining the balance of power between the centre and the community.

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  • 132. At 8:49pm on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #130 - Jukka_Rohila

    "Hoarded" is tabloid press talk. If you mean that they provided account facilities without asking too many questions, yes certainly they did but then banks do that the world over. I ask you, if you pay a sum of money into your bank, do they insist you prove you did not get it by mugging a pensioner before accepting it? If you are asking if the colluded in the original theft, no they certainly did not.

    Would they have paid reparations if they had not acknowledged the facts when they came to light? And where do these 'official figures' come from if not the Swiss authorities themselves. This caricature of anonymous 'gnomes of Zürich' growing fat on the misfortunes of we mere mortals is pure fantasy.

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  • 133. At 8:53pm on 07 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    threnodio, @126 "mother Russia will find it far easier to cope with her children when she has figured out who the father is".

    I understand what you mean.

    Still -
    :o)
    - Now, let's fill in here your name, what's your name?
    - Petr Sergeevich Ivanov. Or - Alexeevich.
    - You don't remember? Have so bad memory, in your age?
    - I do. Mum forgot.

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  • 134. At 9:26pm on 07 Nov 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To threnodio_II (132):

    Just doing what others did isn't ever a credible defense. The Swiss banks also do lot more than banks in countries with legitimate banking systems.

    To answer your question, if you rob a pensioner and then go to bank to put it into your account, if the sum is fairly small there is no questions, but if you make a fairly large cash deposit, the banks will contact tax authority and tax authority starts to make rounds on why you have the money and how did you got it. If the police comes suspects that the particular person robber the pensioner, they can get the details of his/her bank account and its transactions.

    The Swiss banks, they have not told anything to this date, and only lately after USA played hard ball with them, they have started to open up. Now, if the Swiss banks have nothing to fear, they have nothing to hide and thus can open up their books completely. Remember, there are always reasons for why things happen, Zurich didn't become a banking capital the same way like London, New York and Frankfurt came, Zurich and Switzerland are notorious because they didn't and still don't ask questions.

    "Currently an estimated one-third of all funds held outside the country of origin (sometimes called "offshore" funds) are kept in Switzerland. In 2001 Swiss banks managed US$ 2.6 trillion. The following year they handled US$400 billion less which has been attributed to both a bear market and stricter regulations on Swiss banking.[7] By 2007 this figure has risen to roughly 6.7 trillion Swiss francs (US$5.7 trillion)."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banking_in_Switzerland

    Again, you think that this amount of money is Switzerland because of Swiss banks are so much better in money management or because Swiss banks allow hiding and laundering of money. Think about it.

    PS. You also might stop accusing of fantasies when you are the one talking about gnomes in Zurich.

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  • 135. At 9:29pm on 07 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Juksevich, how about "old and wise as a snake gold empire", "snowie and romantic zinc empire", "land of the free - from all but own Kremlin - manganese empire", we got other elements ...

    And what's this, with the "empire" - 1-2 satellites, "specific" as Lukashenko or Kokoita (SO) - who do all they please - don't make "an empire". (Alas. :o)))))

    Well, may be in the Finnish understanding of the word :o))))))
    But I assure you, before and now - "it's 2 big differences" - as they say in Odessa.

    As to the paranoid epithets, why "paranoid". A better word is "reasonably responsible" :o)))). You referred to the "West-2009 deal".

    Who else on Earth can we allow to recognise SO and A? Reasonably. A very limited set of countries.
    As one of the US admin. chaps said to, say, another, a Rus. admin. chap recently - "Between ourselves, I hope you are not serious in insisting the world recognises SO and A".
    I think we assured him that we aren't.
    The day USA recognises Abhasia - there will be a US sea base there, not the Russian one. NATO always out-buys us in ex-USSR military base places. Just this year we tossed 2 bln? 2 mln? to a yet another "-stan" - and thought it's "enough". to cover up US contract of "35 thousand dollars per year for airport facilities renting" :o))))) - and what? just raised the price level in the "market" :o))))

    So I think it's nice and safe if Lukashenko recognises SO and A with his partisans. Without anyone's recognition it's not very elegant :o)))), with serious players recognition - too risky, one has to be selective.

    Putin rightly said at once, to the first media question "And how do you plan for it, in future? Nobody will recognise them.
    - Russia has recognised them, and for them it is more than enough. :o)))))

    "paranoid", LOL. Teach a girl how to wear high heels! Teach your babushka how to cook schee!
    __________

    "Edward Kokoita, "Kokoi-to, in Russian sounds as "of some sort".
    So,
    "When president of Russia went with an official state visit to the prezident of SO, poor president of Georgia exclaimed: But this is nightmare Kokoito!"
    :o)))

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  • 136. At 9:50pm on 07 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    And what do you want of Switzerland, Jukka? Judging by Finland's past performance in the 2ndWW, you know where your place is, in Russian opinion. Behind the bars.
    This time is gone. You can't return back even to 5 minutes ago. Try if you can, with your post.

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  • 137. At 9:57pm on 07 Nov 2009, bena gyerek wrote:

    old nat @ 131

    "There is a conceptual difference between confederal and federal. I suspect you would prefer the former."

    in the sense that membership should remain voluntary, yes of course.

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  • 138. At 10:02pm on 07 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    I'll direct your energy to more productive channels, Jukka. "Jewish gold".

    How about "gold of the last Chinese emperor", a poor innocent darling :o)), a youngster, sadly burdened by the treasures of all the previous Chinese dynasties, grabatised by the USSR after we liberated a good chunk of China?
    We took him home, to Vladivostok :o))), and he pleaded to be exported, because China, after we liberated them :o))) became way to, how to say, anti-monarchic, in their moods. In case you ever wondered how did China ever pick up communism. In the 2ndWW, from us, a cost they paid, for the Red Army fighting Japanese who took them.

    We bought the emperor out, traded him out, and pickled him at home, just in case, to keep in the store, against Mao. For years. Together with his coffers. A Ukrainian KGB secret operation No ??? anyway.

    Now, mind it - the coffers are in Kiev. China offers Ukraine sky in diamonds, for their family diamonds and sabres and treasures. But Joushenko does not sell.

    Why does he need the Chinese millenium collection without the key components of the emperor and Mao :o))) - is beyond me, however they don't return.

    In the unlikely event of :o)))) one thing is for sure - the road to Moscow will lie via Kiev.

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  • 139. At 10:07pm on 07 Nov 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To WebAliceinwonderland (136):

    What Switzerland needs to do is to repeal banking secrecy completely and to give open access to foreign investigations, including historical account data. Nothing less, nothing more.

    If the Swiss banks in reality add value more than their competitors in countries without banking secrecy, they won't loose no one single customer, however if their customers are there because of the secrecy then the Swiss better start to figure on other sources of industries than banking as then the banking business is history in there.

    And Alice, judging by Russian past performance in the 2ndWW, you know where your place is, behind the bars that is. You see, there is a price pay for being a communist.

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  • 140. At 10:11pm on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #134 - Jukka_Rohila

    According to Wikipedia, the original use of the phrase 'gnomes of Zürich' can be credited to Harold Wilson in 1956 as shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister). I will take their word for it (especially since they quote Hansard as their authority) but my obviously faulty recollection was that it was George Brown an old Labour stalwart whose other claims to fame were creating the British Rail logo and his legendary support for the distilling industry.

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  • 141. At 10:14pm on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #138 - WebAliceinwonderland

    Maybe Jushenko figures if he sells the crown jewels back to China, he will have no excuse for not paying the gas bill. Just a guess, you understand.

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  • 142. At 10:20pm on 07 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    139 - Jukka_Rohila

    "You see, there is a price pay for being a communist"

    Yes, you end up being a bloated capitalist with a numbered account in Zürich.

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  • 143. At 00:39am on 08 Nov 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Jukka_Rohila wrote:
    To WebAliceinwonderland (136):
    "What Switzerland needs to do is to repeal banking secrecy completely and to give open access to foreign investigations, including historical account data. Nothing less, nothing more."

    Jukka says this with absolute seriousness. He should be allowed to appoint the investigators, of course.

    So what Jukka is saying is that someone like him should be able to investigate every piece of financial history of whomsoever he likes, because he is the perfect judge of what is fair and just in the world.

    Now hold that thought, because only a few lines later, Jukka the commissar of banking has something to say about communism....

    "If the Swiss banks in reality add value more than their competitors in countries without banking secrecy, they won't loose no one single customer, however if their customers are there because of the secrecy then the Swiss better start to figure on other sources of industries than banking as then the banking business is history in there."

    This is where Jukka demonstrates his profound ignorance of how the world works. Despite having the process explained to him previously, he remains unaware how even the banking system in his own country works.

    Ergo, a company registered in Finland can have shares owned by a company registered in the UK, and can operate a bank account in Finland. Now the company in the UK can be entirely owned by a comany registered in the USA. The company registered in the USA can be entirely owned by a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. the British Virgin Island, who operate as a branch of the British colonial empire, do not have a register of shareholders, which means that you can never know who owns the company from there.

    Thus, it is entirely possible for a corporate bank account in Finland to be used as a secret bank account by Finns. Or anybody else.

    There are numerous other ways people could use bank accounts in Finland in order to hide commercial transactions, including common law trusts to create foundations in third party states who then use the corporate form in Finland, and so on and so forth.

    Jukka has absolutely no idea how the world of international finance and business works, but that is K because his professional qualification is as an ECONOMIST. *cough*

    Now what Jukka does have is a certainty in his own ability to cast moral judgement, and he feels absolutely no moral shame in demanding the right to investigate the personal private history of vast numbers of people in order to cast judgements of criminal wrong upon these masses.

    Which is curious, because he then says:
    "And Alice, judging by Russian past performance in the 2ndWW, you know where your place is, behind the bars that is. You see, there is a price pay for being a communist."

    Jukka, let me explain something to you. People did not hate the communists because their political conviction started with the letter "C". They hated them because.... now listen up here.... the hated them because a communist is someone who feels supremely qualified to investigate every area of anyone's elese private life, and then make judgements about their criminal liability to the state based upon their wealth, or whatever the communist in question decides at the time.

    In other words, people hate communists because they behave in exactly the way you behave. They set themselves up as master of creation, and they throw around hateful and violent accusations and they try to declare other people to be criminals. That is their style of discourse, and this is your own style of discourse.

    This goes beyond irony, in your case. You are not a communist, because at the same time as you declare yourself the master of criminal wrongs and the person qualified to invade the privacy of other people, you have your own personal set of folks whom you would exclude from such treatment, even at your own hands.

    That makes you a hard core fascist. A violent, oppressive fascist. You have no respect for privacy, you have no respect for international law, and you have absolutely no understand of how the world works.

    All you do have is your hate, and your ugly desire to impose your hate upon strangers.

    It is, as the french say, pathetic.

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  • 144. At 00:44am on 08 Nov 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA;

    I commend to you a book by the New York Times correspondent Harrison Salsbury called "The War Between Russia and China."

    http://www.amazon.com/Between-Russia-China-Harrison-Salisbury/product-reviews/0393053946

    In a famous exchange between Khrushchev and Chou En Lai, Lai had said to Khrushchev that China and the USSR would not be at peace for 10,000 years. Khrushchev said that's an awfully long time, don't you think it might be sooner? Lai then said well maybe...in 9000 years.

    We in the West did not know of this war until it was a reality for quite some time. We believed that the USSR and China were a monolith. America's nuclear war fighting strategy assumed it was and if either one had attacked the US the response would have been against both of them.

    Another interesting book few have ever heard of that I may have mentioned once before was by the Soviet dissident Andrei Amalrik who spent most of his life in Soviet prisons. The book is called "Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984?" The reference is of course to Orwell's book. He was wrong, he was off by 7 years. In this book he explained the many forces tearing the USSR apart. The re-emergence of nationalism and rivalries among the constituent republics is no surprise nor the conflict with China. According to a recent book by a Russian MVD defector to the West, Russia considers its enemies in order of priority; the US, NATO, and China. Yes Russia's government likes having enemies. It helps rationalize its domestic failures.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrei_Amalrik#Will_the_Soviet_Union_Survive_Until_1984.3F [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 145. At 00:57am on 08 Nov 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    threnodio, you yourself have a numbered bank account.

    So does everybody else. All bank accounts have numbers, you see, and all bank accounts have names.

    Yes, even the famous Swiss numbered accounts have names attached to them. In fact there is no such thing as a Swiss bank account which does not have a name attached to it.

    The reason the fiction of numbered bank accounts came to be large in the mass imagination was because some hack fiction writers who were writing for the mental equivalent of Jukka didn't understand the practice of discretion.

    Swiss banks often use only numbers when referring to accounts, particularly when they are using methods of transmission that might be intercepted by hostile third parties. By "hostile third parties" I mean bloodthirsty organizations like the KGB, the CIA and the JLF (Jukka Liberation Front). In order to protect their clients from these internationally powerful organizations which disregard human rights on a grand scale, Swiss banks do their best to protect the privacy of their customers.

    And that is what is the real issue, in this debate about Switzerland and banking.

    Jukka thinks that "the government" (but only governments he personally approves of: "communists are not allowed") should have the power to investigate every financial transaction performed by every person anywhere in the world. This is jukka's idea of a perfect world. Presumably he would murder all the communists in order to prevent them forming a government. I'm not sure how his tiny mind expects to prevent his system of an all powerful government falling into the wrong hands. You'd have to ask him, but I will bet the balance of my Swiss account that you don't get a straight answer.

    Now I have Swiss account because I live in Switzerland. So to me, Jukka is some guy who is demanding that foreign governments have access to all my private information. To Jukka, he is some guy who has a grand plan to make the world perfect, by rooting out all the "criminals". He reserves unto himself the right to define both "criminal" and "perfect".

    I suspect the only reason Jukka thinks this way is because he is full of hate and also because he has no privacy, financial or otherwise. Fascists and communists tend to be people who want to strike out at others rights because they believe they have none themselves.

    But the real issue is how much power governments should have over the privacy of the individual.

    I think it is immensely curious that everyone who has the money to pay lawyers to run corporations has the right to absolute privacy, but the only common people on earth who have the same rights are those people who reside in Switzerland.

    I would suggest that this fact stems from the law in Switzerland that says that when the government feels you owe the government money, this is a civil action. But when the government in the UK, Finland or Germany feel you owe them money, this is a criminal action.

    In other words, the government in Switzerland has the same rights as you do. If they feel they are owed money, they can go to the court and sue for it. In the UK, however, if the government feel you owe them money they can threaten you with prison and fines and so on and so forth.

    This is a fascinating analyses of how governments operate. The origins of the UK governments entitlement to use the force of the criminal law to pursue debts of money are found in the practice of Kings having people tortured in order to gain access to their wealth, in order to fight wars against other kings. In Switzerland, the practice of dissallowing governments the use of force to pursue debts of money originates in the system of direct democracy which prevents kings declaring themselves above the law of the common people.

    I think when we discuss banking privacy in Switzerland, we need to be very careful that we do forget that we are also discussing the lack of banking privacy in other states.

    The really savage irony that makes a hideous fool of Jukka is that his hatred of communists is based precisely on their abuses of power. He is too foolish to understand that he is a carbon copy of this failure to respect other human beings rights, but I suggest that most people who look at Switzerland also make the profound mistake of confusing human rights law for banking law. It is not banking law that allows the Swiss to retain their privacy and their dignity, and that prevents their government using huge force to bully them in disputes over money. It is human rights law.

    And when we discuss the law that allows other governments to use the force of the criminal law to pursue claims of money, we are likewise not discussing banking law.

    We are discussing human rights law. Or the lack of it.

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  • 146. At 01:09am on 08 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Jukka when Finland wins a world war then come we will talk.

    threnodio, I'm still thinking along this mommy Russia business, looks like yes. Conceptually, when you assume a position of a "Mum" - you don't throw your children out with 1 pound in the pocket bare-foot and un-clothed, so that they start skulking by foreign doors. You buy them all "apartments".
    In this sense Yeltsin did right, kind "dear kids go to hell" :o)))) "take as much freedom as you can swallow", and all walked away with chunks of land. And then it is alright and how things should be, if your are a "Mum" and not a vicious viper :o)))))))

    But why some kids are so bity?! Say thank you, get lost, be happy. But no, there starts this "she Oh anyway. You know of samples and examples.
    A rhetoric question.
    ________
    Youshenko playing with China LOL! Jesus Christ. Is indeed an intrigue. The worth of the collection wasn't discussed here in exact dollars, don't know what it equals in gas supplies' time. Must be enough to avert " a nuclear winter" :o)))) or two (those. January things) - but not a total happiness. In the status of the "national Ukrainian treasure" now. The thing is it has shrunk for the past 70 yrs substantially being wobbled, passed over, stolen and carried underground, and what only not happened to it. Rather, sweet remains now of what it used to be originally, but as the rest vanished entirely without a trace - very very sweet remains. All countries want something own historical, and this is it in case of China.

    The boy the last emperor was in the USSR in the position of a, LOL, "a dear guest in prizon". He took with all, incl. ministers, doctors, servants and things. Stalin appointed for him an estate (hell knows where, btw Khabarovsk and Vladivostok), and there the man lived and walked - but never to the outside world - up to the walls of the estate. Spied on round o'clock every word reported. And this lasted for 15? forgot how many - years. We didn't rob him (at once :o) because he was a "dear guest". All he did these 15 years was sending Stalin bits and pieces of his treasures with sweet letters type "Do anything only don't return me back to China." Poor emperor learned Russian, read whole Marx and Engels, and ended up asking for a USSR passport insisting in his letters to Stalin that he is quite reformed for better. Stalin didn't reply his single letter for years, which drove our poor Montecristo totally insane from worry "oh what will happen to me."

    This is a very tragic story, jokes apart, a disaster.

    The man wanted to marry a Russian girl - his cook! - but they didn't allow him, and extracted the girl. That's the piece of the millenium collection that Russia has now :o) - her engagement ring.

    He read press in worry, tracing how is it, btw USSR and China - felt safe when we quarreled, and his heart sank when we didn't.

    Lots of the time he spent digging and re-digging his coffers into the ground in the estate, his servants did - and all was spied upon. He kept carrying them "to the river bank, here and there", but the most precious parts always kept in his rooms. A big amount he sent to Stalin as a present, thank you for the escape, at once - but it was money mostly.

    Anyway the last emperor got kind of used to his life, and they began letting him out to Vladivostok for strolls in the city (spied upon) and all went more or less well since USSR quarreled with Mao seeing the hunweibins and the cultural revolution, like, unexpected developments - of own hands' making. China began "to build communism" in earnest :o)))

    But then at some point we made peace with China again - and this is when we sold the emperor down the river. He was returned to China - with whole property listed and included, every bit that he sent to Stalin and all that he had with (China insisted on the "full package"). He was kicking and crying and pleading but was returned, after all these years of imprisonment. Without a word of explanation to him.
    China immediately run him through the court, accused of all possible, but didn't kill, we agreed they won't. But life didn't became better for the poor Emperor, as from the Russian prizon he got into the Chinese prizon. And this time no servants and court, plain blue robe and work and our emperor couldn't even dress himself up! He never did!

    Pity Stalin's plan type "and here we are again, and - surprise surprise! we've got an emperor for you, your dear own one - ready!" didn't work out somehow.

    Now, there is an awful incongruency in the listings of things - with what the emperor was sent out of Russia - and what was listed on the Chinese side of his belongings as "arrived". A murky story of the pass-over of that train, you can write a detective story on that train adventures, anyway the Ukraininan KGB operation of passing him and things over - and then all ends vanish, and post perestroyka emerge in Ukraine. A retired KGB colonel visited Joushenko and said "I've got something. For my mother Ukraine. A present." - and surrendered the hiding place of the treasure.

    Ukraine isn't a place where things can be kept secret, and now it is in the stage when Uoushenko shows on TV a heavy metre thick door turning, the vaults, and the items in the national treasure fund.
    Playing with the fire, at this stage.
    Timoshenko by the way thinks in parallel with you, threnodio. That it is time to sell it to China, and also sell Ukrainian gold reserves own (very, vety lumpy quality stocks). She demanded to now, last week when they again had nothing to pay for the gas, but as usual, you know, they are of different opinions with him.

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  • 147. At 01:33am on 08 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    But then, what could that KGB guy do with the hiding place? You can't take it out, neither from Ukraine nor from Russia, you can't start selling even a sword of this sort or a stone - you won't live a day. In our quarters.
    China is very quiet and very polite about the issue :o)))))

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  • 148. At 01:53am on 08 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Mavrelius, "USA, NATO and China". What can a spy say when defecting, you can't arrive somewhere with bare hands, need to bring something, in the? that bird's nose :o)

    What did the USA know, if they didn't know USSR and China lived like cats and dogs. I swear I have a paper some place in the house, LOL, my dad wrote, with his friend, a bet, in about 1963? need to check up.

    "Clause 1.
    If China (the People's Republic of) attacks USSR before the year ?xxx - such and such rolls out on the table a bottle of appealing to the God drink (of the strength not less than 40 degrees).

    Clause 2. If China (the People's Republic of) :o)))) does not attack USSR - such and such rolls out to the table a bottle of the aforementioned smth LOL said drink (of the strength not less than 40%) :o)))), together with a snack - a tomato from his un-attacked dacha.

    Date, signed etc. - a charming framed document. Dad won of course, China (the People's Republic of :o))) didn't. By 1980-s time was the bet, approx.

    Overall I think it was a great Stalin's idea, to have an emperor in the sleeve, once he saw that Mao looks odd. What he didn't expect apparently was that China so quickly becomes a place where you can't even show up with an emperor, for fear he'll be torn to pieces by the crowd. No respect for traditions whatsoever!

    On the other hand such a coup would also look charming - one communist country installs in another communist country an emperor. Mavrelius wouldn't know which newspaper to buy first.
    :o)))))

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  • 149. At 02:24am on 08 Nov 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    "Timoshenko by the way thinks in parallel with you, threnodio."

    Sometimes I wonder if they are maybe the same person.

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  • 150. At 03:48am on 08 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    dt!

    BTW this time the alarm is off, Ukraine found money. They are all in flu poor folks, not in the shape to quarrel. All schools, universities sent on 3 weeks' holidays and mass meetings, football, theatre, cinema and protests are prohibited. As the radical measure to fight the flu, Joushenko opened a criminal case against Timoshenko for the "deliberate import of the virus to Ukraine".
    But then we might be in flu, not in the shape to quarrel. In fact we already are, but as only 2 laboratories pan-Russia do tests, and each test takes 3 weeks, we are blissfuly unaware of what flu exactly all flop down from, though all are sure it's that one, because never we saw so many coughing and sneezing people around, normal flus don't take up every third around.
    The difference btw Ukraine and Russia is that they do better - recognised it and take measures. And we pretend that nothing happens. Also, when in Ukraine someone sneeses in your bus - all jump at him/her and shout like get out immediately. And they wear masks.
    Haven't seen one mask in Russia, and when all sneeze and cough near you in the metro - nobody even winks, type Allah Akbar God willing, an apathic attitude.

    :o)
    A Ukrainian bus. Aaap-tisha? (the sound) Cough-cough.
    - Get out of here immediately how you dare walk with the swine flu among normal people you..
    - Come on, folks, I've got tuberculosis and Aids!
    - Aah, you should have said at once, then it's alright.

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  • 151. At 05:41am on 08 Nov 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    118. At 5:31pm on 07 Nov 2009, JorgeG1 wrote:

    " ...

    As the UK is the only EU country that has rejected the euro and Schengen, I observe these obsessive debates about referenda on the LT with bemusement. ..."

    The UK has not only rejected Schengen and the Euro. It has rejected the Lisbon Treaty.

    70% did not want it.

    It was because we rejected it that we didn't get a referendum on it.

    Therefore it is not legitmate.

    It is no moere legitimate than the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.

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  • 152. At 05:57am on 08 Nov 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    114. At 4:43pm on 07 Nov 2009, Jukka_Rohila wrote:

    "To SuffolkBoy2 (113):

    Dude, if God spoke to our EU leaders, then what would be the difference between us and the Americans then? Think about it."

    SB2: Hey Dudess! We haven't got any leaders in the "EU". We just have dictators.

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  • 153. At 07:16am on 08 Nov 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Alice, I don't think anybody in the free west believes in Swine Flu anymore. The medical lobby groups overplayed their hand very badly, and the whole campaign to generate massive payouts to pharma corporations and doctors fell flat.

    The problem was that the medical lobby groups were telling the media corporations and government departments that Swine flu was out of control and needed instant action. So the media and the government, like they always do, reported this directly to the masses as the truth. And then someone, somewhere, made the observation that Swine Flu killed far less people than the normal flu. That is even of the people who catch it. And that was pretty easy to verify, on the internet.

    And so the government, the media and the medical lobby groups all looked like complete idiots. And so the media shut up about it, and slowly the government got the hint, and even the medical community are looking for new ways to terrify the public and demand government spending to enrich the owners of pharma corporations and their pet doctors and medical experts.

    Right now the idea is to generate huge government spending on more "foreign aid", which is the way we in the free west describe the government buying a whole lot of stuff from corporate sponsors of the party, putting that stuff on boats, and sending it to people who don't need it either.

    Sometimes I think the USA was crazy to declare the "War on Terror". They might just get what they ask for, and win it!

    Certainly i think the idiot masses of the free west are getting harder and harder to terrify with stupid news reports about the next big terror. When they told us that sex would kill us (AIDS) or turn us into starving africans (the hidden implication), that really had people going for a while. Musicians made a fortune out of the free publicity, and hardly anybody noticed that the starving africans either continued to die or got better with food.

    And now everybody is certain that AIDS is not going to kill off all the africans. We know, because boatloads of them keep arriving to give us the news that they have a huge surplus. We can have as many hungry africans as we like, and everyone knows a hungry person is a healthy person.

    Likewise, I don't really think Swine Flu is going to fix the Ukraines economic problems, or Russia's. That terror is just a big media myth to disguise government spending on corporate junk.

    Russia is new to the ways of the free west, but you will learn. earlier you were saying that you don;t have good enemies anymore, because the USA has grabbatised them all.

    Well, I think you will find Russians are much easier to frighten than the poor people in the free west. Our governments and their corporate media friends have been screaming WOLF! at us for so long now that we are becoming immune to the terror of the media and corporate lobby groups. We are actually winning the war on terror, accidentally.

    I think. I hope.

    When the fat lady who dropped out of high school and had children in order to get a pension rather than work and who watches daytime television as a substitute for the divine, when that lady starts to question the terror on the midday news, then we have really won the war on terror. Because she controls her tired little husband with a shrill voice, and when she learns to think then the whole rotten business of representative government is going to come crashing down.

    I think she is going to learn to think sooner or later. This sector of the population who bullies weak men and who therefore controls the political economy of the state, this sector is getting smarter and less dependent on purely emotional stimulus.

    Talk shows have replaced church services for this sector, and slowly but surely those talk shows are getting smarter and more intellectually demanding.

    That is my vision of hope for the free west. That is what I believe even if it isn't true, so i can look at the world without becoming alarmed at the wretched things people talk about.

    The internet is going to set us all free, via the fat lady who bullies her husband according to the dictates of daytime television advertising.

    You watch and see. I am seldom wrong for very long, and I am determined that the world start to turn my way on this issue.

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  • 154. At 08:52am on 08 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Democracythreat

    Knowing of your residence in and admiration for all things Swiss I was wondering if you have a take on the upcoming Referendum on 'Islamic Minaret' building in the country?

    A couple of things about it do tie in 'loosely' to the Lost in Translation theme and our previous debate on Human Rights:

    When the Muslims of Switzerland seek to build/convert buildings for Mosques has that somehow inflamed debate amongst Swiss about the 'immigration' and therefore the languages now appearing in the multi-lingual nation?
    What is the status of Human Rights in Switzerland if in a Referendum
    result should happen to support the 'banning' of Minarets on Mosques?

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  • 155. At 09:39am on 08 Nov 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    CBW:

    The word on the street is that this proposal is going to be a resounding failure. The majority of Swiss are appalled at the idea of banning Minarets. they just don't see the point.

    At the same time, being a muslim in this country must be an absolute ordeal. If you start spouting your religiously driven garble in public, everyone is going to have a piece of you. And I mean everyone. The postman, your hairdresser, the policeman, your eighty year old neighbour. Every one of them is going to walk up to you and start arguing the specifics of what you are trying to sell.

    The Swiss are tolerant north by northwest. They will allow the muslim faith to co-exist, because they understand secular politics and the need for human dignity in matters of faith. At the same time, they will be absolutely intolerant of the unacceptable aspects of radical Islam.

    So the muslim community here will be shaped by the rest of the community, just like the other people of faith, and what you will end up with is a muslim community that is forged in a furnace of reason and debate. Thus I predict Swiss muslims will end up being more Swiss than muslim, just as the Swiss catholics are independent of Rome, and the Swiss protestants are independent of Luther, and even of Calvin, the native Swiss reformer.

    Swiss society is remarkably open and intellectual. Hence, you see things out in the open. You may have seen the racist SVP party and their despicable black sheep posters? They openly marched in the streets of Thun recently.

    And the reasonable folks of Thun openly marched against them, in huge numbers, and had a good open riot, and the police ended up having to protect the racists from being thrown into the lake.

    And the debate goes on in the newspapers, and on the trains, and in the pubs and households. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone recognizes the need to debate that opinion and defend it.

    Swiss society is emancipated politically, and this has created (I believe) a very high degree of intellectual emancipation.

    I am often told that other nations could never have the direct democracy Switzerland has because the population are too ignorant, and would never use their new found power responsibly, and there would result the classical horrors of the tyranny of the majority.

    But I take a different view. It is a "chicken and egg" paradox. Yes, civil society in the UK (for example) is not fit to make sensible decisions on complex issues because so many of the population are utterly ignorant of anything except football and music television.

    But WHY? Why are the people ignorant? Why is civil society in such an appalling state? I refuse to belive it is the fault of the people, because I know a good many ignorant brits, and none of them are completely stupid. They have been conditioned by their society to believe in a perverse (to my taste) class system and a political economy that has no time for their serious opinion on serious matters. So they behave to fit this social model, and they do not cultivate serious opinions on serious matters. But they are the same flesh and blood as the Swiss. They are not stupid people. They have been made stupid by a media which promotes stupidity, and by a social class system which provides a place for stupid people to feel comfortable.

    Just so, I believe the Swiss political system has forced the establishment of a media which is leagues and leagues above any other nations, in terms of its intellectual level. The Swiss pour absolutely incredible amounts of money and training into early years education, and every profession is entitled to respect for the intellectual dignity of its participants. In simple terms, if you are on the train with a Swiss carpenter and a Swiss barman, you can absolutely expect to be able to have a vigorous and highly informed debate about international affairs. There is no embarrassment, and no sense that these things don't concern these professions. A farmer will argue with conviction against the views held by a lawyer or a doctor, and will demand that his views be given respect, and debated fairly.

    This is not the result of some sort of genetic intelligence gene, but rather the predictable outcome of a system of democracy which demands that all people vote on the laws which govern their lives.

    This is also why crime is nearly absent from Swiss society. People treat crime in an entirely different way here. If someone commits crime, people ask "why on earth would they do that?" Crime is abnormal, it is sociopathic. The law is the will of all the people, thus only a real sociopath would dispute it by breaking it. People prefer to discuss laws they dispute, and to form community groups to push for legislative change, than to foster grudges against "the system". Criminality cannot hide behind the facade of class war, for there is none.

    And thus, the vast majority of all crime in Switzerland is committed by immigrants. this makes the Swiss highly intolerant of immigrants. The Swiss are aware that their society is "polluted" by people who do not understand how to be Swiss. This is why they are so intolerant of foreigners at times.

    But it is not a stupid, reactionary intolerance. When the SVP debate the impact of foreigners, they DEBATE. And they generally lose the debate, but nevertheless the issues get a fair hearing.

    For example: The SVP claim that if muslims are allowed to form protected societies within switzerland, the religious leaders will end up abusing the fundamental human rights of the females in that segregated community. This, they argue, will create a subset of people within Swiss society who have no reason to believe that the law protects them as it does other Swiss, and so the muslim society will grow estranged, and eventually become hostile. therefore, they argue, we cannot allow muslim religious leaders to operate beyond the law that applies to all swiss. Thus, if muslim practice contravenes fundamental human rights law as it applies to females, it must be prohibited, and those priests must be held accountable before the criminal law.

    Now this is a fascinating argument, and a very powerful one. Consider the UK.

    I ask you, when Muslim priests in the UK preach to their flock that marriages should be arranged between families, and that young women should be removed from the "evil" influence of western values, are these people denying the young women in question the protection of the English law?

    A lot of people would argue that politically correct religious tolerance in the UK has served to fail these young women, and to create a grey area of law where some young women are protected from arranged marriages and being treated as breeding machines by priests, whilst other young women have not been so abandoned by the law. This is a breakdown of the rule of law, and a breakdown of the social contract that says all are equal before the law.

    So the issues are complex. But at least in this country, they are thoroughly discussed. In the UK, as far as i can tell, the political class issue dictat to the masses who then have to live with the consequences.

    When people call Switzerland a racist country, remember one thing: there are literally thousands of places in the UK where a person of colour could be beaten to a pulp for arguing their views in the local pub. In Switzerland, nobody is going to beat anybody else to a pulp for arguing their views. they may have a fierce argument, but it will not be driven by hatreds and conflicts which are swept under the carpet by a media which is so politically partisan that it is incapable of speaking the honest truth to its people.

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  • 156. At 09:40am on 08 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #145/149 - democracythreat

    #145 - "threnodio, you yourself have a numbered bank account. So does everybody else".

    Yawn - yes, I know - don't you do irony in Switwerland?

    #145 -" "Timoshenko by the way thinks in parallel with you, threnodio. Sometimes I wonder if they are maybe the same person".

    And that isn't ironic - that's perverse.

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  • 157. At 09:45am on 08 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #15 - cool_brush_work

    Given the Swiss genius for compromise, maybe they should continue to allow minarets providing the call to prayer is made in German, French, Italian and Romansh. Complete rubbish of course, but if it drags us kicking and screaming back onto a topic that it had run it's course midway through Friday, all will not be lost.

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  • 158. At 09:53am on 08 Nov 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To democracythreat (143):

    No, you are missing points about illegal money flows and banking.

    In the real world we have crimes happening all around: narcotics trade, human trafficking, illegal weapons trade, illegal commodity trade, etc..

    In the real world, a client pays to a sex slave with real money, a drug addict pays to a drug dealer with real money, part of this money directly by the criminals to buy new drugs or new trafficked persons, another big part of the money ends up as the profit of all these criminal actions.

    In the west, the governments try to fight against these crimes and criminals by targeting and preventing money entering the financial system to prevent financial dirty money being laundered into legit money. The logic is, if you can't profit from crimes, in essence use the dirty money, the motivation for organizing these crimes decreases.

    There are many checks in place, for example usage of cash payments are restricted, you can't buy a house with cash; banks will notify the state if someone makes big deposits of cash; the tax officials will calculate can you have the sums that you have with your legal input, etc..

    However there are always some points, some corrupted individuals or organizations that look away and let the dirty money into the financial system. The good thing about financial transactions are that they can be traced. For example a Finnish criminal who goes to Estonian bank and makes a big cash deposit to his account, or the account of his dummy corporation, leaves marks of himself, that either the Estonian or Finnish authorities can check and investigate. Real problems start with countries and banks that have strict banking secrecy in place, these are the places where the money laundering happens and where traces end. By opening up these places, the criminals can't hide anymore and the investigators can track down the real source of the money in question.

    Now lets go back to your example of corporations. See what you neglected to tell in your example was that A) all corporations have to have, at least in the west, real persons acting as either chairmans of the board or as managing directors, and B) the origin of dirty money is usually in the west and the destination of the laundered money is usually the same address as the one of the dirty money.

    Criminal investigators can and will track and investigate persons that are acting as responsible parties in these corporations and will hold them responsible if any illegal activity is found. Criminal investigators also track leaving money flows as those coming in, by not having any place with banking secrecy, the investigators could and would track money transactions from the source to the destination and put and end to the illegal activities that producing these profits.

    Again, let me ask you, if the Swiss banks aren't soliciting something illegal, then what is the competitive advantage that they have compared to other banks world wide? Let me quote again...

    "Currently an estimated one-third of all funds held outside the country of origin (sometimes called "offshore" funds) are kept in Switzerland. In 2001 Swiss banks managed US$ 2.6 trillion. The following year they handled US$400 billion less which has been attributed to both a bear market and stricter regulations on Swiss banking.[7] By 2007 this figure has risen to roughly 6.7 trillion Swiss francs (US$5.7 trillion)."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banking_in_Switzerland

    Again, 5.7 trillion US dollars, why are they in Switzerland? I say why they are there, because that is the only place where they are safe, because the source of the money is so questionable that their owners wouldn't want to put them in any other place.

    Now you cry foul of the loss of privacy, and you cry foul of the governments tracking individuals and organizations of crime, but you don't share any tear for the victims of human trafficking, of drug trafficking, of arms trafficking, of stolen commodities trafficking, etc.. The fact is that the victims of these crimes are counted in hundreds of millions and we will get new victims as long as the criminals can profit and walk away with impunity. In my opinion, those who condone and protect these criminals are as guilty to the crimes in questions as the criminals themselves.

    I also have to say that you have been spoiled, actually we in the west have been spoiled. We live the life of wealthy, comfortable and secure lives, we have time to think about rights or demand things such as privacy. However you go way out of line, you demand privacy that goes beyond reasonable and you demand privacy even knowing what it costs to whole global community: the suffering that it causes to the victims of crimes and the ability of criminals to go free and do their bidding. You are being selfish!

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  • 159. At 10:48am on 08 Nov 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Jukka, you are making accusations against the Swiss banking system that are simply false. The Swiss do not allow criminal organizations to launder money here. They have very strict regulations concerning criminal activity in the banking system, and any nation can apply for information concerning bank accounts that are linked by evidence to criminal practices.

    Those are the facts, Jukka. You are simply ignorant of the facts.

    The one area where the criminal law in Switzerland and the criminal law of other states differs is that the avoidance and evasion of tax is not a crime under swiss law, and therefore the Swiss will not assist foreign governments who claim to be pursuing "crimes" that are actually financial disputes between that government and the individual.

    You blurt on and on about people trafficking and drug trafficking and arms trafficking, and you would make an interesting case if you were not absolutely wrong about the state of the law.

    If you take a few minutes to research Swiss banking law, you will find that Switzerland will readily give up information concerning any bank account that is linked to drug trafficking, people trafficking, terrorism, or any other matter that is a crime under Swiss law.

    What is more, there is a very strong case to argue that the Swiss have a much cleaner banking system, with regard to these crimes, than any other European state. That case rests upon the Swiss law having no place for the "trust", which is a common law mechanism for hiding money behind a legal representative, thus shielding the true owner from scrutiny.

    You simply do not know what you are talking about, Jukka. You don't know how the world of international trade operates, and your arguments against the Swiss system of banking is simply ignorant of the law in question.

    You ask what the competitive advantage is for the Swiss banking system. That is a fair question. Let me offer three, in order of generally recognized and easily verifiable historical importance:

    1. Low taxation. Thus, if you international company can choose to locate its administrative headquarters in various locations, it pays to locate in an area where the tax on profits is low. Switzerland offers low taxes to its inhabitants, due in a large part to the highly efficient and productive society that does not demand huge levels of taxation to get by. In contrast, your beloved communists want an effective tax rate of 100% (property is theft).

    2. Stability of currency. The Swiss franc is highly stable, due to the very large and broad range of investments that underpin the value of the currency. Switzerland's firms have investments that span the globe and span all industries, and so the currency is ipso facto highly stable, and resistant to large fluctuations in any one nation or industrial sector. International firms which do business in many countries and which deal in numerous currencies need to hedge their transactions and they seek stability in the currency they use as their basis for central accounting. The Swiss franc is one of the most stable currencies, hence it is popular. This may change, however, because recently the swiss sold a large amount of the gold they held in reserve. The sale of that gold, just before the gold price went sky high, is seen as a massive blunder and an economic catastrophe here.

    3. Stability of political policy. Switzerland is seen as being culturally insulated from events that threaten large holdings of wealth. For many hundreds of years, wealth here has been immune from seizure by communist or socialist revolutions and the attendant governmental theft via taxation or communist nationalization of companies. Switzerlands neutrality and military policy give investors confidence that things will not change radically in this country, and so investments here are seen as comparatively safe. You will note that Switzerland has NEVER experienced a collapse of its banking or insurance industries. I repeat, NEVER. Not once. Never.

    Go read something about economics and the history of this country before spouting your mouth off about the immorality of Swiss law. Your arguments are ill informed, hysterical and downright offensive.

    Furthermore, you avoid the discussion of how corporations in Finland can and are used to avoid the laws which you claim apply to real people. This, i submit, is simply because you do not understand how corporations operate on an international level.

    You cannot know who controls the wealth in corporate bank accounts in Finland, because you cannot know who owns the corporations who own the corporations who own the corporations who own the corporations who own the corporations who bank in Finland. Each of these corporations can and are located in various jurisdictions, many of which do not keep registers of shareholders.

    This is an exercise you can easily test for yourself. Go search the shareholder register of a bank in Finland. See if you can't find a corporate shareholder registered in a foreign state. Then go search the register in that foreign state, and see if you cannot find a corporation registered in yet another state. Repeat, ad nauseum, until you find a corporation registered in a jurisdiction that does not allow you to search the shareholder register.

    You will be able to do this for every bank in Finland, Jukka, because this is how the world works.

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  • 160. At 10:50am on 08 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    Jukka.

    Banking is not unique as a profession in which clients are entitled to require confidentiality. It is considered an absolute standard in the medical profession for instance. This can be just as controversial. Do you hold that a psychiatrist has a duty of care to warn authorities if he thinks a patient may be unbalanced enough to commit a crime? Would you require a doctor to notify the authorities when a patient is HIV positive?

    What about the confessional? Do you think priests should be required to abandon their vow of silence when they learn some terrible secret?

    Let me give you a silly example. The bank officer on his way to work sees one of his customers cleaning windows. On checking, he finds that he gets unemployment benefit paid into his bank. The man is clearly moonlighting in the black economy. Should the banker tell the social affairs ministry? Of course not. He is not a policeman, he is a banker. It is his job to accept at face value and look after deposits entrusted to him. On a much grander scale, this is exactly what you are talking about. Seizing assets, total exposure of confidential information and all that goes with it is shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. When a large sum is deposited which may have come from a drugs or arms deal, the deal has already been done. If it had not, there would be no money to launder. Now if you pick up on a crime and you need to find a trail of evidence, that's one thing but to simply assume that because a large sum has changed hands, there has to be criminality involved is entirely different.

    No Jukka, I am sorry but this is another example of how willing you are to trade off a basic right to confidentiality the better to exercise unwarranted control. DT is right, for somebody who so despises the Soviet model, your preferred methods are surprisingly similar.

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  • 161. At 11:25am on 08 Nov 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Jukka, i apologize for my tone and for my insults towards you. I realize you are not a bad fellow. I simply fidn your aggression towards Switzerland ill founded and alarming.

    If you are genuinely open minded on this complex topic, please humour me and do the following:

    1. Google "Black Money".
    2. Watch until you encounter the Swiss prosecutor Mark Pieth as he tries to dig into the systematic corporate corruption of EU corporations. Listen to what he says, and try to understand the context.

    I think you need to broaden your conception of law to include corporate entities as well as real people. If you are willing to do as I suggest, I have no doubt that you have the raw intelligence to understand the blind spots in your current reasoning.

    Anyway, i'm sorry for my harsh language in earlier posts. I do enjoy your contributions, and I regret insulting you.

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  • 162. At 12:28pm on 08 Nov 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Any case anyone else is interested, there is an excellent english translation of Mark Pieth's work at

    http://www.pieth.ch/

    I hope that anyone who is curious will note that Switzerland is host to not only this professor, but also to the international organizations who are spearheading the fight against organized corporate corruption, bribery and immoral financial practices.

    Anybody who cares to research this area of law will be interested to know that Tony Blair halted the criminal investigations into BAE precisely because the Swiss government were prepared to lift banking secrecy provisions and supply details of the Saudi transactions to the UK serious fraud office. Likewise, the USA justice department has halted criminal investigations into the BAE contracts in the USA despite the Swiss providing the evidence required to pursue the case.

    What becomes clear, after one understands precisely what happened in the BAE case, is that corruption has been condoned not by Swiss banking, but in spite of it. The Swiss not only provided the information required by the UK and the US legal departments, they have also provided the legal philosophy and the international teamwork that has allowed the very concept of international corruption to evolve into a reality.

    The obstacle to removing corporate corruption and black money is now the political economy of the UK, the USA, the EU states and the other nations who refuse to enforce Swiss standards. It is abundantly clear that huge pressure exists within the UK, USA etc to push forward and apply the Swiss legal standards set out as international agreements in the OECD, however the overall political economy in those states is, to use the exact words of the highest officials in the legal departments of the USA and the UK, "frustrating the application of the rule of law".

    Please remember when you examine the way the BAE case and other similar cases have evolved over the past decade that the only reason we know what we know is because the Swiss have applied laws that other states refuse to apply.

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  • 163. At 12:29pm on 08 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    democracythreat, these financial things are indeed awful complex. I attended a course inside the MBA didn't understand a thing. Just yesterday a pack of heavy books cascaded on me from the shelves, "understanding Wall Street", int'l finance - nearly killed me. I dutyfully bought a suitcase of them, and dutifuly read, and very politely nodded to the teachers during the lectures, trying to shape my eyes into smth resembling to them an understanding format. But for myself decided that, how to say, I've got many talents other :o))), what to do.

    Luckily, in the jobs I had in Russia, there were no complexities involved :o) For example, I once brought to our financial director two invoices, type "Chose one". Russian TV channel gave me two draft contracts. One stated that the channel gives us this amount of air time, and there was an invoice accompanying it for xxx amount of dollars.
    To be exact - XXX,000 amount.
    Th other stated that the company gets the same amount of air time, and the invoice attached to it said 40,000 dollars, to be paid to the bank account in the Cayman islands.

    As my fin. director was foreign, there was a sound of the dead body flop o))) When he recovered himself, he tried poor fellow to form an opinion, mentally run through the problems of Russian book-keeping, to report the company's finance in the Russian way, through the problems of the foreign book-keeping, to report the company's finance of the area to WHQ, tried to ask my opinion - what would marketing think better (Ask! with my budget! which sum I prefer!), tried to get the company laywer tied in somehow - but we had a chap who washed up his hands immediately -"both are good, what's the problem - let marketing decide, it's their expense. provided the Cayman thing doesn't let us down and fools with the air-time" and it is a pathetic view to see how principles viibly fight with the ? how to say? habitual tight-fisted-ness! of a Financial controller :o))))
    Anyway.
    What I mean the things I encountered were luckily plain straight-forward and didn't require an MBA.
    :o))))

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  • 164. At 12:39pm on 08 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Democracythreat

    Re #155

    Knowing almost nothing about Switzerland except history book accounts of its past it is very useful to have your perspective.

    Thanks for that info: As per usual many interesting points to ponder: I had heard the vote would be a resounding victory for tolerance, but, I do wonder as in the seclusion of the ballot box odd and sometimes very dark thoughts can come to mind.

    The 'immigrant' issue may not be as plain sailing within Swiss society as you clearly wish for: From my experiences in the UK and Belgium it is unfortunate but there are those within Islam who brook nothing but their own medieval version of the way world should be (just like barmy American fundamentalist christians). They are not open to reason and debate because their miond has been closed off by their very intolerant version of the Prophet's word. Of course the great majority of Muslims are as concerned by this radical branch as is the rest of the World at large.

    Are you a naturalised Swiss or an 'immigrant'? I.e. are you one of those the Swiss may distrust or by 'immigrant' are you referring to specific newcomer groupings within Swiss society?

    I must say I do not recognise exactly your "literally thousands of places" description in the UK where a Muslim or other minority would be beaten: True enough rascism and those sorts of violent things do occur, but, the UK is very multi-cultural these days. The beatings are hardly everyday or anything like it, and are just as likely to occur black on black (see the London 'gun-crime' statistics), or asian v asian, or white on white and all stops in between (plus the 'drug' gang culture prevalent in some communities and the 'east' European communities have arrived with often very non-PC views of women and non-whites)!


    Yes, I would agree with your suggestion the 'Political Correctness' tolerance of successive UK Governments has not always contributed to the aim of a fair society for all that perhaps was the intention.
    With a 60million population crowded into a very urban environment of incredible range of education and experience clashes are inevitable, but the recent 'BNP' vote was very much about an 'Expenses scandal' in Parliament and not just a race issue (though it played a part and needs appropriate 'immigration' policy-shifts by any Government).

    Yes, I would agree with your suggestion the 'Political Correctness' tolerance of successive UK Governments has not always contributed to the aim of a fair society for all that perhaps was their original intention. Only in the last 2 years the Commission for Racial Equality Chairman Trevor Phillips has been conceding some of the CRE's worthy aims and policies over the years have actually acted against the overall interests of the communities they were most meant to help.
    It is a Gordian Knot - - e.g. the UK Government promotes the Islamic Faith as being a just and tolerant one with no need for fear by others in the community - - then it tries to apply that 'Common Law' about equality of opportunity and choice for Females alongside Males which simply is unworkable if applied to some sectors of the Muslim community whose strict interpretation and adherence to Sharia Law categorically denies the CL approach to a just society!

    If the Government cannot get it properly balanced how must less well educated and often deprived members of all parts of UK's population (inc. muslims) feel about the many complexities the contrasting cultural norms throw-up?

    So, I would repeat: Beware the 'reasoned' argument approach that will lead to the 'more Swiss' than 'Muslim' members of Swiss society. Their Faith simply will not allow that perspective to be the dominant outlook and certainly at times the message from under those minarets will directly contradict much of Swiss Law.

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  • 165. At 12:43pm on 08 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    The problem with the economical option was incongruency between the contract and the invoice. The contract stating that company X pays TV channel Y the amount of XXX,XXX USD, while the invoice bit separate piece of paper stated the bank account of the TV channel director - name surname etc - 40,000 dollars, SWIFT etc. Cayman islands.

    Next check up - invoice - Cayman - nevermind, OK. If a company wishes to pay money to an individual that's their problem. Oh, by the way, what did they pay for? Let's see the contract. The contract - ?!!! all different numbers. That was the bug.

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  • 166. At 12:45pm on 08 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    That's because that Russian TV channel didn't study an MBA (wouldn't help IMO :o) either nor read them those text-books and didn't know how to make an offer elegantly!

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  • 167. At 12:55pm on 08 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Democracythreat

    Re #159, 160 and 161 and the redoubtable Jukka_Rohilla

    Interesting take you have on J_R!

    I have never read a fellow who attracts so much critical comment for the way he writes but often the intent of content is actually usually quite good.

    This is in contrast to poor old MAII of course who doesn't attract criticism just unadulterated contempt, bile or laughter in equal measures.

    On the Swiss Banking thing I have no view at all as I know nothing other than what sometimes appears in news items (didn't the USA recently 'persuade' the Swiss to handover details of the Madoff accounts or something like that?).
    However, on the 'people trafficking' and 'drug trafficking' I would add that your debate with J_R is notable for J_R's significant failure to mention that elsewhere he has waxed lyrical about how Schengen etc. have not contributed to the massive increases in the above 2 sickeningly illegal activities - - when every statistic reveals to the contrary - - since the EU 'open borders' policy the misery inflicted on thousands of unfortunate, exploited females and children enslaved across UK-Europe and the immense increase in Drug usage can all be dated back to the EU's supposed beneficial and enlightened 'people/immigration' policies.

    As you have rightly often remarked - - one excellent choice of the Swiss - - has been to remain outside the EU and if they had been sensible enough to hold to that approach with Schengen etc. Switzerland in general would be a whole lot better off.

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  • 168. At 1:23pm on 08 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #167 - cool_brush_work

    Schengen is about freedom of movement within the signatory countries. As part of that process, it was always intended that external borders would be reinforced. Living in a country which is a member of Schengen but has land borders with several non-Schengen countries, I can assure you the border police did not simply pack up and go home. They were redeployed to the restricted borders. The problem with these 'sickening illegal activities' is not internal mobility. It is 'illegals' getting into the area in the first place.

    If you have evidence that Schengen has contributed in any significant way to people trafficking, please point me towards it. because I am unaware of it. Indeed, if the British border authorities were to stop wasting all the time and resources monitoring their fellow Europeans going aout their lawful business and focussed them instead on illegal immigrants from outside, we might all be a lot better off.

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  • 169. At 3:06pm on 08 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Threnodio_II

    Re #168

    I suggest you Google and look at some of the following:

    Europol - Trafficking in Human Beings in the EU, June 2009
    Coalition Against Trafficking Women
    The Natasha Trade
    Women and the Economy - Migration
    People Trafficking - Europe's New Problem
    BBC News - Trafficking, A Human Tragedy
    Civitas EU Facts - Schengen Convention
    Europa - No.10 - Freedom, Security and Justice

    and, there's always Wiki for an overall account inc. pre/post-Schengen!

    'Trafficking' encompasses prostitution, pornography, domestic and agricultural employees from non-EU nations: In the last 2 decades this has been predominantly exploiting people from Russia, former soviet states inc. Baltic States, former Yugoslavia, Africa and the Far East.

    On a purely anecdotal note: If Schengen is so effective at policing external borders how do those multi-cultural groups of people end up at Calais etc., the Africans get to Spain, Ukrainians etc. into Poland, and the Albanians, Turkish, Balkan peoples etc. into Italy, Greece and Malta?
    According to the EU some 2,200,000 'illegal' migrants of one sort or another ventured through the EU external borders in just 2007-08.
    Only 4 or so years ago Spain announced an 'amnesty' for 4,000,000+ illegal migrants within its borders!

    Of course it is not all to do with Schengen 'open borders' and the criminality has always been there, but, Schengen has compounded the problem. Statistics clearly show the 'trafficking' of peoples has dramatically increased since 2000 and along with that there has been a rise in drug smuggling and a whole range of cross-border criminal activity. 'Open borders' is a fine policy for the majority so long as they don't face up to the damningly onerous side-effect of incredible numbers of harshly exploited and often cruelly abused that now inhabit every city and town of UK-Europe. And for waht!? So, we don't have to sit in a queue for 30 to 40 minutes to show a Passport!

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  • 170. At 4:01pm on 08 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Jukka, I don't think people's trafficking money or other crimes' money end up resting in Switzerland. You forget that the country of origin of these crimials doing crimes "en mass" - it's likely, how to say, that the whole climate in it is such that you don't need to hide money obtained in illegal ways and you don't need anything particularly secure like a Swiss bank. This leads to a tricky discussions "where criminals originate from" so I won't continue, just a thought.

    For example, in your favourite Russia - 70% of property - houses built in the suburbs during the past 20 years - won't stand a test of a tax inspectorate on their owner. Apart from mumbling "grandma left me 3 diamond rings..." you wouldn't be able to explain how your salary in the past 20 years combined, taking in account all money reforms we have had, cutting zeros on banknotes, adding zeros on banknotes (confuses inspectors by the way as well :o) - compares with a clearly 2 million dollar house. To which you say "I got hold of a large pile of bricks unattended o))) and 5 friends were building it with me together on weekends days and nights :o))).

    Another new sudden thought I had, seemingly contradicting the "construction news above :o) - is Russia in fact isn't doing so bad in terms of morals. surprise surprise.

    A person with principles, or, how to say, the hell with "principles", simply with consiousness - won't do crimes even when allowed.

    Reading bits and pieces in these blogs I couldn't but notice that the laws in the West are far more strict and supervision of the society is far more strict.

    Jukka would you speed up or park where it is not theoretically allowed -if you knew that there are no video-cameras, you will never get "the bill".

    That's what I mean, punisnment for crimes of all sorts is not irreversile, irr it's not that it comes for sure to Russians, rather - you know it wouldn't. If in such climate we haven't all killed robbed and drove over each other - it means there is good in people, by itself.

    I can buy for cash a house, in fact I did once, and can bring any amount of cash to a bank, and no one will ever ask me where from.

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  • 171. At 4:21pm on 08 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #169 - cool_brush_work

    I have already investigated many of the ideas you suggest (my post was not pulled out of thin air) and all the credible evidence I find points to the fact that - to quote you - "according to the EU some 2,200,000 'illegal' migrants of one sort or another ventured through the EU external borders in just 2007-08". Absolutely right. It is not mobility within Schengen that is the problem, it is the external borders leaking like a sieve.

    I think you might be a little bold to talk of "...former soviet states inc. Baltic States, former Yugoslavia, Africa and the Far East". The Baltic Republics are part of the EU and are in an entirely different position from the other countries you mention.

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  • 172. At 4:49pm on 08 Nov 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 173. At 4:52pm on 08 Nov 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    @ cool_brush_work formerly known as Europhobe in chief Ikamaskeip

    "'Open borders' is a fine policy for the majority so long as they don't face up to the damningly onerous side-effect of incredible numbers of harshly exploited and often cruelly abused that now inhabit every city and town of UK-Europe. And for waht!? So, we don't have to sit in a queue for 30 to 40 minutes to show a Passport!"

    My edit: Open borders is a fine policy for all EU and EEA countries except for Britain, a country scared of its own shadow where xenophobes and their unelected bureaucrats, sadly, call the shots. Open borders INSIDE the EU have nothing to do with migrants illegally entering Europe. Before Schengen or after Schengen illegal immigration has been a fact of life in Europe and elsewhere.

    It is so typical of the Europhobes of using selective pieces of information to smear the EU and its policies at every opportunity. Like "the Eurozone is a disaster and its going to collapse imminently", yet France, Germany and Italy are all exiting recession before the UK.

    The UK is not in Schengen yet it appears that the anti-immigration brigade is up in arms about the amount of immigrants, either legal or not, present in the country. How come, if the UK is not in Schengen, it has its own share of 'harshly exploited and often cruelly abused that now inhabit every city and town of UK-Europe'.

    Tell me which one applies:

    a) The UK is safe from illegal immigration and terrorism because it is not in Schengen

    b) The UK is a magnet for all the immigrants in the world because it is not in Schengen

    c) The UK is a country scared of its own shadow were xenophobes and their unelected tabloid bureaucrats have the upper hand and for that reason it is the only EU or EEA country, out of a total of 30, that has a problem with Schengen.

    I vote for c).

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  • 174. At 5:03pm on 08 Nov 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    I also thought - to 90% + of the people "bank security" doesn't mean that you can run away from Interpol or from your own tax inspection.

    Originally, Jukka :o))), strange i am to remind you :o)))) the concept was that the bank doesn't collapse or run away together with your money. This is the point, about the "secure bank." As minimum, that's what I'll mean by a "secure bank".

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  • 175. At 5:16pm on 08 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #173 - JorgeG1

    I wonder how many people who condemn Schengen so roundly here will turn up two threads later celebrating the opening of the Hungary-Austria Border, the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain.

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  • 176. At 5:41pm on 08 Nov 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    @ 175 threnodio_II

    Well, I know at least one Briton who sees through the double standards prevailing among (most of) his compatriots:

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/28b3322c-9700-11dc-b2da-0000779fd2ac.html

    "The Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain have gone, to be replaced by the Great Wall of Dover (...) Part of [the] problem is that harsh Germanic word, Schengen. If only Europe's borders had been abolished at some place the British find sexy, like St Tropez or Torremolinos, the British might have understood better how their country is starting to mutate into North Korea."

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  • 177. At 6:02pm on 08 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    threnodio_II

    Re #171 and #175

    The reason for my inclusion of the Baltic States of the former USSR is that 'trafficking' through them was a problem from the moment the iron curtain came down and has not been reduced in the least since then (inc. Schengen).

    I am afraid I cannot agree with your relaxed view of Schengen: It was supposed to include much tightened 'external' border controls and that is just plainly not happening. Thus the 'internal' National borders are so porous that the most wicked of exploitation and corruption is rife within the EU for the smuggling/abuse/misuse of people, drugs, weapons etc.

    Look this does not have to be about the EU: This is about Human Beings and whether or not millions of them are suffering because of a dubious policy of 'open borders' - - the Historical turn of events that led to the break up of the Soviet Union undoubtedly has contributed and so has the admission of certain 'east' European Nations before they had really established post-communist proper Law and Order (e.g. Rumania, Bulgaria and the Baltic States) - - with a significant decline in border controls at the extremities which Schengen obviously did not intend but quite clearly has resulted in.

    Re #173
    As for your collaborator-in-chief of the defence of Schengen (if only Spain's borders were so well defended!) the fact is Spain has taken more 'illegal' immigrants than any other EU Nation - - Spain is a member of Schengen and Spain's borders are part of the external borders - - JorgeG1 should worry more about his nation's porous border controls than the concern he shows for the UK.
    Lectures on the UK's border policies from the Schengen affected Spanish is as useful as a sieve for a kettle!

    'Xenophobic UK' ! Oh not again! How often is this drivel going to be trotted in place of factual argument? The UK's population of 60,000,000 contains 8,000,000 whose parents/grandparents first language is not English - - the UK is completely multi-cultural - - which 'xenophobes' is it: the Indian-english, the Kenyan-english, the Brazilian-english, the West Indies-english, the Australian-english, the European-english (some 1.2million in last census!), the Hong Kong-english etc. or the Scots, Welsh, Irish...?
    Do get a grip on the real UK of 2009 before anymore nonsense.

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  • 178. At 6:14pm on 08 Nov 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    @ 177

    "JorgeG1 should worry more about his nation's porous border controls"

    There is no such thing as a watertight, non porous border. Such thing only exists in the minds of the politburo that rules Britain, the anti-EU and anti-immigration brigades and their unelected Brussels bureaucrats. All borders are by nature porous, no matter how much you try to negate that fact.

    "'Xenophobic UK' ! Oh not again!"

    I did not say that everyone in the UK is xenophobic. All I said is that the xenophobes have the upper hand and that is the ONLY reason why this country is the only country in the EU or EEA that has refused to join Schengen.

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  • 179. At 6:18pm on 08 Nov 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    Correction to my prevous post

    "There is no such thing as a watertight, non porous border. Such thing only exists in the minds of the politburo that rules Britain, the anti-EU and anti-immigration brigades and their unelected TABLOID bureaucrats."

    Not a Freudian slip.... promise.

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  • 180. At 6:23pm on 08 Nov 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    @ 177

    I forgot to ask you Ikamaskeip, why are you not campaigning for border controls (including the hour queue close to midnight with which HMG "welcomed" us last week at a third rate airport in the Midlands, coming back from another EU country) between England and Scotland, England and Wales and England and NI?

    Exactly the same reasons for which you oppose Schengen apply here. Scotland, Wales and NI are "importing" illegal immigrants from England, as most of them enter the UK via England, either through the channel or major airports such as Heathrow.

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  • 181. At 6:56pm on 08 Nov 2009, frenchrose wrote:

    I totally agree with frenchlily (comment 9) - pathetic does indeed mean sad or tragic, but after 15 years of residence in France I can guarantee that the use of the word autistic I certainly not common.
    The French Minister is back-pedalling badly.

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  • 182. At 9:13pm on 08 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #177 - cool_brush_work

    It certainly is not about the EU - on that we are agreed. To start with, Romanian and Bulgarian membership is not implemented yet while Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are associated members. That is not really my point.

    As regards the Baltic Republics, the citizens of those countries are entitled to the protection of EU law in respect of movement, employment rights and even the minimum wage in their country of domicile. To be honest, if people who have those rights allow themselves to abused in the way you describe, they have themselves to blame. If you argue that these countries are being used as a gateway for non-members, I can only say again that its failure on the part of non-member states to secure their external borders who are to blame, not the Schengen process.

    I will acknowledge one valid point which you point to. How come so many illegal would be immigrants turn up at Dover and other ports of entry having transited through the EU? Fair question but again this is about implementation. Securing external borders is central to making Schengen work and enforcing internal borders is simply diverting resources from the central ambition.

    "As for your collaborator-in-chief . . . ". I am not sure that characterising someone in those terms simply because I agree with him is helpful and it is certainly not helpful to bracket me with people using emotive terms like 'xenophobe'. I can only find one use of the word in my posts over several years and it referred to the 'British government promoting xenophobic attitudes in order to win favour for an unrelated policy'. Yes it was about Schengen and I stand by it.

    I am sure JorgeG1 will answer for himself but I think you will find "his nation's porous border controls" are actually non-existent unless Wales now introduced immigration controls.

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  • 183. At 10:33pm on 08 Nov 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To democracythreat (159) and (161):

    In regards of Switzerland...

    Switzerland was just removed from the OECD gray list to the white list, that doesn't mean that it is the cleanest and most law abiding place in earth. You can't just put few hundreds years of history behind. And let me remind you that Switzerland, in case of UBS saga, with kicking and screaming followed the OECD guidelines when it had no other choice. Switzerland has and still does cause cross border harm to its neighbors with its position of both banking privacy and to taxation.

    This I judge even more harsher when Switzerland could very well live without its banking sector, while the GDP per capita of Switzerland is 68,433$, Denmark almost reaches it with 62,097$, they both are in excellent logistical locations. Even countries like Finland and Sweden, with remote locations manage to pull over 50,000$ GDP per capita with harsh conditions.

    Banking isn't vital for Switzerland, it could do with out it. That gets me little bit aggressive and annoyed. To also add, Luxembourg, the tax heaven inside the EU, pulls world record GDP per capita figures so Switzerland isn't in reality even that efficient.

    The other think that irks me, is that, while you say that the Swiss authorities will hand information, that is only in certain cases, that is not good enough. The Swiss giving banking secrecy to their own citizens is fine, but there is no reason to give that secrecy to citizens and resident of other countries. For example if the Finnish state wants account information concerning its citizen or permanent resident, it should get that information when it wants it according to its own rules. In that case the Swiss are stepping over the relationship of the Finnish state, Finnish legislation and a Finnish citizen, and that is unacceptable. It is even more unacceptable as we are moving all into a common SEPA area.

    Lastly, the Swiss banks, if they are so good, if Switzerland is so competitive, just shut down banking secrecy and let us see how good they are and how much capital is there because of the competitive advantage and how much because of the secrecy. If your analysis is right, then they have nothing to loose...


    In general...

    I very well know the problems with corporate ownership, I wasn't born yesterday. The thing why I'm not concentrating on corporate ownership is very simple, while theoretically there can an infinite number of corporations, there can only be finite number of people. For example if tomorrow we could get all the ownership and banking records out in the open, having possible for information systems to query automatically financial assets and ownership information, it would be more economical to track persons than to track corporations - as I said, finite number of people, infinite number of corporations.

    You also have to understand that it is one thing to hide a wealth, but it is another thing to use it. If you track individuals, if you track their sources of money, then you can effectively nullify the results of hiding that wealth. In essence, when the IRS sees that you have more money than you should have, based on your declarations, the burden to prove that it is your legitimate money is on you.

    Now this isn't perfect, I know it isn't, but you have to start from somewhere. The other thing is that without making pretty draconian moves even by my standards, that would probably cause more economic damage than good, you can't solve problems caused by corporate ownership easily. However you can start from individuals and move there. Maybe someday we can just send few carriers and threaten to bomb the last few remaining places that don't comply back into stone age.

    In the end, I also do share you note on the corruption of EU corporations. That is one thing that the EU commission and the member states have to deal with more on hampering down corporate corruption, including tax optimizations inside corporations.

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  • 184. At 10:47pm on 08 Nov 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To threnodio_II (160):

    Doctor patient and lawyer client confidentially is legislated by the state. The state gives the right for privacy in these cases as it seen more beneficial. However if the state in some point sees cases arising or the situation changing, then it is the matter of the state to decide what is a confidential relationship and what is not.

    In case of priests, if the state gives right for priests to have confidential relations with their guided, then the priest doesn't have to talk, but if not, then by remaining silent the priest brakes laws.

    In case of the example you told, the banker and window washer, again, it is the matter of state to decide on the matter. Usually banks have clear guidelines set up their lawyers according to law on what to do and on how to act when different situations arise. In case of your example, the bankers duty would have been to consult the guide and notify his/her superiors.

    Lastly, why do you need banking secrecy from the state? You say it is important, but you haven't given any motivation for why do you think that it is important.

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  • 185. At 07:54am on 09 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    The issue of 'border controls' is whether over the longterm the British Isles will be better off retaining its own National-Geographic control of the entry points and the coastline in between, or, handing such controls to maninland Europe.

    Mr Engell in the FT makes several good points for the latter and in his estimation likens present UK border policy to the 'frightened rabbit'.

    However, it is over years as the EU develops that the success or otherwise of many of its institutions and policies inc. Schengen can be judged to be effective, useful and user-friendly for the Citizens inhabiting the continent.

    'None of the perks' says Mr Engell! Well, that will depend on what is considered a perk - - the British Isles to be ruled from London-Edinburgh-Cardiff-Belfast-Dublin - - or from Brussels-Paris-Berlin? There is no substitute for the ultimate 'perk' of Free-will and Self-determination for the Citizen. I believe a majority (though have no way of knowing - - Referendum!?) of British still prize that political freedom above the dubious ease of consuming petrol etc. across other's borders.

    Whether Britons find themselves enjoying the dubious personal luxury of uninterrupted travel through 26 nations in return for a derisively limited freedom of expression within the EU only the course of time will tell.
    What is known right now is that in return for 'free movement' millions of people are being moved against their will to be exploited in outrageous ways and all to maintain the fiction that unification is a positive thing. So, when I drive from Calais to Warsaw without interruption I am aware in the boot of cars and backs of lorries women, men and children are also enjoying the benefits of 'free movement' and 'open borders': And all because my fellow Europeans could not spare 30 minutes at Customs points in their very busy-very self indulgent-very important personal little worlds!
    Once upon a time we could all stand in those queues and look each other in the eye with the confident knowledge we were almost certainly innocent, law-abiding and open to inspection by legitimate authorities: Now by our self-absorbed concerns everyone of us is complicit in the agony visited upon those smuggled, victimised innocent and blameless women, men and children.

    You can join Mr Engell in pride at the achievements of the EU: I will continue to point out the EU comes with the heaviest human price-tag of any regime - - the loss of Free-will at any and every level of our society - - and furthermore it is the EU that is responsible above all else for the shame.

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  • 186. At 08:05am on 09 Nov 2009, Wonthillian wrote:

    '185. cool_brush_work'

    Please give an example where membership of the EU hs made an iota of difference to the 'freedom of expression' of the average UK citizen.

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  • 187. At 10:50am on 09 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Iantownhill

    Re #186


    Membership of the European Union.

    Failure to allow any sort of expression of support or otherwise for this dangerously centralising supra-national body; no Referendum for the British but the Eire Citizens can have 2. The EU clearly feels it has the authority to intervene in the National business of other Nations when it suits Brussels e.g. Sudan, but curiously and ominously quiet on the rights of its members' Citizens.

    European Court of Justice judgements.

    The over-riding of National Legislation as presented in Political Party Manifestos and voted on (thus popular support expressed) by the UK Citizens at General Elections. The supremacy of a non-British final Court of Appeal over-turning policy agreed to by the British electorate.

    Directives.

    The supplanting of each of the 4 UK Nation's policies by EU order; it is not a matter for the ordinary Citizen how their Nation fishes, farms, trades, employs etc. No, it is a matter for an unelected European Commission and European Parliament without popular electoral Mandate for the last 4 elections.

    Will 3 do, or do you want more?

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  • 188. At 11:11am on 09 Nov 2009, Wonthillian wrote:

    Re 186

    My question concerned specifically freedom of expression. Most of your reply was just an anti-EU rant. Concerning your first two sentences which were at least relevant to the question;

    'Failure to allow any sort of expression of support or otherwise for this dangerously centralising supra-national body'

    SO what do we spend our time doing on this blog?

    'No Referendum for the British but the Eire Citizens can have'

    A decision taken at National, not EU level.

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  • 189. At 11:46am on 09 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Iantownhill

    Re #188

    Yet again, we who do not support the EU are guilty of another 'rant'.

    Rant = "proclaim bombastically, preach noisily.." (English dictionary).
    So, when you ask for one 'iota of difference' and I answer giving 3 examples my daring to do so is then a rant!
    You, on the other hand, offer no examples of the new found freedoms under the benificient EU umbrella: If as in the case of the UK those freedoms were already in place what was the gain from the EU Laws - - in fact you pointedly ignore any reference to the EU Laws having enabled the 'trafficking' debacle.

    Apparently we must also accept your version of what is 'free expression'.
    Which if you will pardon me for saying so is a little restrictive of 'free expression', but, doubtless as an EU supporter that little oversight comes very easily to you.

    Free expression = "unimpeded, not restricted, , unrestrained, without hindrance.. of.. views, images... also.. artistic license.. (English dictionary).

    That you are content to express your opinions on these Blogs typifies all that is wrong about the supra-national EU: In time this sort of communication will become the only outlet for the EU Citizens - - and, as that is a Moderated-House Rules-No Appeal form of communication it os of course entirely within keeping with the overmighty, corrupt intentions of your EU.

    Lisbon: You can continue to maintain the decision for the Eire Referendum was National and those of us aware of the reality behind the EU can only reply when will the 3rd and deciding Referendum be held!?
    What!? You mean there wont be a 3rd - - isn't that a little short on the free expression - - afterall, even if it were a National decision since when has 1 vote been deemed unacceptable but the 2nd acceptable unless and of course there was only 1 result the Eire Citizens could ever be allowed to arrive at by their 'free expression' and "No" wasn't it!

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  • 190. At 12:02pm on 09 Nov 2009, Jean Luc wrote:

    Re "Membership of the European Union.

    Failure to allow any sort of expression of support or otherwise for this dangerously centralising supra-national body; no Referendum for the British but the Eire Citizens can have 2. The EU clearly feels it has the authority to intervene in the National business of other Nations when it suits Brussels e.g. Sudan, but curiously and ominously quiet on the rights of its members' Citizens."

    You really refuse to understand that it is not within any EU institution's competence to order member states to hold referendums? The question of holding a referendum is a national one, if it were a European one you'd probably go whining about the EU superstate deciding what how and when we decide something.

    If you didn't get a referendum blame your own governement, it has got nothing to do with the EU.

    Re "European Court of Justice judgements.

    The over-riding of National Legislation as presented in Political Party Manifestos and voted on (thus popular support expressed) by the UK Citizens at General Elections. The supremacy of a non-British final Court of Appeal over-turning policy agreed to by the British electorate."

    Reality check my friend: the Uk has bound itself through treaties to numerous obligations. One of the most far reaching of these treaties are the EEC/EC/EU Treaties. Your country has ratified them and public international law prescribes 'pacta sunt servanda' and as international law is of higher hierarchy than national law 'lex posterior derogat lex priori' doesn't apply. E(E)C law isn't only hierarchically superior it also has supremacy, this supremacy was laid down before the UK joined. Therefore when the UK citizens agreed to the membership of the EEC, all cards were on the table.


    Re "Directives.

    The supplanting of each of the 4 UK Nation's policies by EU order; it is not a matter for the ordinary Citizen how their Nation fishes, farms, trades, employs etc. No, it is a matter for an unelected European Commission and European Parliament without popular electoral Mandate for the last 4 elections."

    No it's not a matter for the ordinary UK citizen anymore. THat's the whole bloody point of the E(E)C: certain problems need to be resolved above the national level or are even caused by the existance of the national level. If you don't like it, you shouldn't have joined the E(E)C in the first place.

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  • 191. At 12:35pm on 09 Nov 2009, Wonthillian wrote:

    #189

    You paint a picture of a society where it would be illegal for more than 2 known anti-EU people to gather on a street corner. This is of course completely ridiculous and you undermine the credulity of all Euro sceptic arguments (some of which may be quite reasonable) by making such statements.

    On the Irish referendum, clearly you don't like the result (although I suspect it was mainly low turnout that caused a 'no' the first time round) but the fact is it was a Irish national decision to hold one, in the same way that it was a UK Parliament decision not to hold one in the UK.

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  • 192. At 12:40pm on 09 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Me_rijn

    Re 190

    Seldom have a I read such one-sided trivia dressed up as camouflage for a self-evidently undemocratic regime!

    It reminds me of the air-brushing of Trotsky from post-Revolutionary photos of Lenin addressing the happy throng - - there was a fellow responsible for that 'free expression'... his name was Barro... Oh! Of course not, back then it was Stalin.

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  • 193. At 12:59pm on 09 Nov 2009, Jean Luc wrote:

    cool_brush_work

    You obviously have no single notion of international relations, politics and law.

    You have really romanticized ideas about 'the people' and 'the will of the people'.

    Not that I hold it against you, I'm just a bit more realist. The problem with your argument lies in the fact that your conclusions are wrong even to your own romantic standard of "the will of the free people".

    Because, and this is evident because you did not go into the substance of my remarks, your own people have asked themselves and later reaffirmed to be members of the EEC/EC/EU. And than there is a simple natural rule: pacta sunt servanda.

    Of course the pacta sunt servande rule isn't holy. If conditions fundamentally alter, the rule doesn't apply anymore if you would never have agreed to the 'pact' given the new conditions.

    But as I said before, this isn't the case: all cards were on the table and your people chose to become member.

    And you can go on making silly little unfounded comparisons between the EU and the USSR as much as you want. Even according to your own logic your argument fails!

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  • 194. At 1:06pm on 09 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Iantownhill

    Re 191

    Firstly, I nowhere suggest the meeting of '2' or more anti-EU would ever become a crime although you clearly feel that may be a future scenario - - I have much more belief in what lays ahead - - the break-up/down of the EU before we ever get to the lamentable stage you presuppose and which I repeat none of my writing in any way endorses.

    Second, by accident I presume, you used "credulity" when you meant "credibility" - - or are you incredulous of the fact we have not all fallen at the feet of Brussels in humble supplication - - for we anti-EU have noted what Brussels claims to offer to Citizens is barely credible when at National level all of it existed within the EEC (Common Market) and that the Federal agenda that has followed is not supported by any electorate whenever it is put to the ballot.

    The old 'low turnout' argument - - so, when I claim the EU Parliament does not have a Mandate due to low turnout I am twisting the facts and denying the election results - - when 52% of Eire Citizens vote in a Referendum and a majority of those vote 'No' that is an entirely different matter and gives the EU reason to hold a 2nd Referendum?
    Well, let us have another EU Parliamentary election asap and let us see if the vote goes up or goes down - - if it is the latter - - will the MEPs refuse to take their seats until there is a higher turnout?

    You know, sometimes when I read how you EU supporters turn, duck and dive to force everything to fit your view of things I just wonder do you make it up as you go along or have you fiction-sheets issued from Brussels?

    I see Me-rijn has rejoined the fray - - let us hope we are not to be treated to another round of instruction of how and what we are to debate - - anyway, I have written my piece/peace.

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  • 195. At 1:29pm on 09 Nov 2009, threnodio_II wrote:

    #194 - cool_brush_work
    #191 - Iantownhill

    I am curious as to why turnout is back on the agenda and what it has to do with the debate in hand.

    I have often heard this theory that a low turnout indicates disaffection with the institution for which they are (not) voting. It does no such thing. It indicate disaffection with the whole process. I suppose if you were to take it to its logical conclusion, voter apathy would actually signify that a significant proportion of the electorate don't give a flying ferret about the democratic process full stop. Be that as it may - and it is a bit of a red herring - what we must concern ourselves with is how people who do care enough about the process vote and stop making meaningless claims about the significance of widespread abstention.

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  • 196. At 1:29pm on 09 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Me-rijn

    Re #193

    Now it's trivia foolishly compounded by a Latin maxim that has no basis in fact where the EU is concerned!

    I am proud to count myself among the 'paganus': We, who do not follow the new EU deity recall that by its origin we were first and foremost the disparaged 'civilians' of the Roman Empire. Our 'heathen' practises of rejoicing in the individual State before our leaders were led through Brussels for all the world to denigrate as confirmation of our enslavement by a Caesarism.

    Go ahead: There is always room for the servant on-the-make and you will find useful employment in such a duplicitous regime - - that your fellow Citizens find themselves 'in forma pauperis' will be a measure of your worth as history unfolds.

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  • 197. At 1:35pm on 09 Nov 2009, Wonthillian wrote:



    ~194

    'I nowhere suggest the meeting of '2' or more anti-EU would ever become a crime'


    I was merely taking what you were saying in 187 and 189 about lack of freedom of expression to its natural conclusion. In reality People are allowed to express anti-EU views on TV, on the radio, in newspapers, in pubs, in bus queues, in Parliament, in election literature, on twitter, more or less anywhere. People are equally at liberty to take the opposite view . We'll leave it at that.

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  • 198. At 2:01pm on 09 Nov 2009, Jean Luc wrote:

    Re "Me-rijn

    Re #193

    Now it's trivia foolishly compounded by a Latin maxim that has no basis in fact where the EU is concerned!

    I am proud to count myself among the 'paganus': We, who do not follow the new EU deity recall that by its origin we were first and foremost the disparaged 'civilians' of the Roman Empire. Our 'heathen' practises of rejoicing in the individual State before our leaders were led through Brussels for all the world to denigrate as confirmation of our enslavement by a Caesarism.

    Go ahead: There is always room for the servant on-the-make and you will find useful employment in such a duplicitous regime - - that your fellow Citizens find themselves 'in forma pauperis' will be a measure of your worth as history unfolds."

    Nice theatrical rant you got there. However nothing worth or even useful replying to except for your remark on the latin maxim.

    Pacta sunt servanda = rule in international relations between states, specifically to treaty practice

    EU = organization established by international treaty between states

    So what is your point?

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  • 199. At 2:34pm on 09 Nov 2009, cool_brush_work wrote:

    "...rant..."

    "...rant..."

    "...rant..."


    You naturally only write in sweetness and light and all things bright!

    Like the European Union: You have no point at all except to exist off other's labours.

    Bye.

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  • 200. At 2:49pm on 09 Nov 2009, Jean Luc wrote:

    So what's your point?

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  • 201. At 00:45am on 10 Nov 2009, lacerniagigante wrote:

    11. At 10:52pm on 05 Nov 2009, Freeborn-John wrote:

    "The British electorate was almost completely unconcerned by the dissolution of the British Empire, even supporting figures like Ghandi in its dismantling."

    Do you reckon? This is an extract from the person considered to be the greatest Briton ever:

    "It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious middle temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the east, striding half-naked up the steps of the viceregal palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the king-emperor."

    - Winston Churchill, 1930

    If the man considered the greatest among Britons was alarmed and nauseated, imagine the rest of the island!

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  • 202. At 09:53am on 11 Nov 2009, oliderid wrote:

    Being a native French speaker: Pathetic has the same meaning in English and in French. Basically this is one of those "international" words that you can find in almost all european languages. It doesn't mean "sad", it means well....Pathetic. Autism isn't really an insult but it isn't a compliment either...Like in English.

    The tone was simply undiplomatic.

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  • 203. At 2:24pm on 13 Nov 2009, PlanetEnglish wrote:

    The French have been waiting for 195 years to avenge Waterloo.
    That is the primary reason why the EU was invented by Jean Monnet.
    Since 1688, we have stood independently from the Republic of Esperanto (let the French, Germans, Spanish and Italians figure out one common language for the Federal Republic).
    We havent done badly at all in those 321 years.
    Australia
    Canada
    USA
    All speak English.
    So does India.
    And HongKong - China.
    And Japan, Korea, S Africa.
    And all 9 are in G 20.
    We can stand independently of the Republic of Esperanto.
    Before President La-tino Blair issues directive # 007 from Brussels to dismantle the UK into Provinces of Mercia, Northumbria, Scotland, Wales, etc, it is time to let the Republic of Esperanto rant in the one language of their choice.
    The French Foreign Minister can have his Nth Republic - one more try !
    But they must stick with their side of the bargain - no Esperanto here. All migrants from the Republic of Esperanto to remain the responsibility of the Capital of Esperanto - Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Madrid - take your pick.

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  • 204. At 2:48pm on 13 Nov 2009, Wonthillian wrote:

    #203

    Keep taking the tablets.

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  • 205. At 2:50pm on 13 Nov 2009, Wonthillian wrote:

    #203


    On second thoughts, stop taking the tablets.

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  • 206. At 6:55pm on 13 Nov 2009, PlanetEnglish wrote:


    # 204, 205

    Surprise, surprise....
    The migrants within the Republic of Esperanto are desperatley learning English and queing up for the first flights in to London.
    The Capitals of the Republic - make all the rules - and as they cannot handle the migration to the Esperantic Capitals,the economic responsibility to help them out is on English and London.
    Just like the rest of them have been moving to America, Australia, Canada for 200 years...
    Wonder when this Esperantic tragedy will come to pass !
    Causing the mass migrations like the 1990s after the USSR meltdown...
    Or the mass migrations of the 1800s and 1900s to Planet English.
    Capitals are built on migration...and as London took most when USSR meltdown happened, it is only correct to legitimise that and make London the Capital of Europe - rather than the Esperantic farce we have now. It will be a befitting finale when English finally becomes the # 1 in the EU as in the rest of the world.

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